How To Embrace Discomfort To Grow and Lead Successfully

Calm seas don’t make good sailors. You need to embrace the challenges and tough times ahead to develop the resilience and strength to thrive in the new economic climate we are heading into – a climate in which uncertainty and change are the most certain challenges that businesses will face.

This is the first shift that all aspiring leaders must make: to embrace and enjoy being uncomfortable.

Calm sea - serenity

Here are five warning signals that you need to make this first shift:

1 – You find your work boring and frequently think about doing something different

2 – You want to get promoted but it’s not happening fast enough

3 – People don’t listen to you or your ideas, so you stop putting so many forward

4 – You secretly think there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance you’re going to hit those stretch targets so you aim for what you know will be acceptable

5 – You feel like you’re pushing at closed doors or a glass ceiling and you’re not sure you’ve got the energy to break through

These red flags. Indications that you need to push yourself way beyond what you’ve ever done before. And here are four things that you can do to step up and start playing in that rare air that the people above you are already enjoying:

1 – Ask to get on the biggest problems that your company faces. There are no excuses here: you’ve got to find ways to get on those critical projects that will shape you and the company you work for. This will stretch and challenge you and enable you to earn the respect, kudos and dare I say it, bragging rights, which come with having cracked the toughest problems and challenges in your field.

I’ve always been amazed at what happens when people simply ask for the opportunity. Think about it! Your bosses want to succeed and if you’re offering a way for them to do so then, provided you are great at what you do, they will usually find a way for you to help them.

2 – Delegate even more, and do so effectively. One of the common reasons I find mid ranking managers and executives struggle to step up to the next level is that they simply fail to delegate, or worse, they delegate badly – without support and accountability. Great delegation is something would be leaders should have learned in their 20s and early 30s, but so many didn’t and that’s a common reason they struggle to rise to the top later in their careers.

So if there is an ounce of this characteristic in you then ponder on this: there are plenty people beneath you that want to succeed. So let them. Give them some of your challenges and make sure they have the support they need to succeed. Lead as you would be led. In this way, you will create time and space to tackle the bigger challenges that will mark you and your business out against the competition.

3 – Face your fears head on and turn them into strengths. I know it’s easy to say, but you’ve got to turn the challenges you’re facing into opportunities. You’ve got to turn your fear around and say “I’m going to do things differently. I’m going to show you how we can bust through these challenges. I’m going to show everyone just how great we can be.”

And most importantly, you must…

4 – …Engage your heart! Life is too short for drudgery so don’t be the richest person in the graveyard. Push yourself, get engaged in things that you really feel passionate about and engage your heart. That is what’s going to give you the edge. That’s what’s going to enable you to embrace being uncomfortable and push yourself to the next level.  That is what gives you the serenity and focus to succeed.

[This is shift one of five that I am writing about.  I will update this post to include links to the others as they are posted]