The Opportunities of Discomfort

Opportunity

You may be feeling a bit out of your comfort zone right about now. That’s okay. Just know that times of discomfort are also times of great opportunity . . . as long as you view them as such.  Having a hard time embracing that perspective? If so, consider the following:

It is not the job of a leader to have all the answers. It is the job of a leader to find the answers. The more clearly you can articulate what you do know, the easier it is to identify a path to address what you don’t know. In most cases, what you know far outweighs what you don’t. The things you focus on grow in your mind. Start by focusing on what you know. It increases the sense of calm and helps keep the unknowns in perspective.

Know where to place your confidence. I recently heard an interview with Liz Wiseman, author of Multipliers, How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter where she noted that leaders can have high self-confidence while also having low situational confidence — high “can do” and low “know how to do.” What does that look and sound like? “This is a new situation for us, and I am confident that we have the skills in our organization to figure it out.” This approach ultimately leads to a higher levels of team engagement and trust . . . which builds situational confidence!

When you lose routine, you gain insight. Stepping outside of what you know gives you the chance to view things with fresh eyes, to make connections that you otherwise would not have made. In Create More Flow, Igniting Peak Performance in an Overwired World Camille Preston refers to this as the learning zone — that space outside your comfort zone where you are engaged and inspired. Yes, this space can be a place of struggle, but also a place of great growth. Don’t wallow in the struggle, focus on what you’re learning by walking through it.

Change is easier in the midst of challenge. When situations feel uncertain, there is less resistance to change. Seize the opportunity! Do you need to streamline policies and processes or set up new structures? Have you been looking for opportunities to collaborate, strengthen current partnerships or demonstrate how your organization can contribute? People are much more willing to try new approaches in the short term to address an immediate crisis. After the crisis, assuming the new approach has proven effective, it is harder to make a case for returning to “business as usual”.

Out of your comfort zone? Opportunities abound in the discomfort. Don’t waste it.

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