How Comfortable Are You With Discomfort?

embracing change leadership mindset personal growth

 There's a leadership trap I commonly see people fall into and that is the leadership destination mindset. It stems from the belief that if they work hard, do the tough things, then it (leadership) will become easy 

But rather than hoping for ‘easy’, hope it becomes more challenging, because the more it stretches you, the bigger the game you’re playing, and the more growth you’re experiencing.  

Uncomfortable with Being Uncomfortable in Action 

Let me tell you the story of a Clinical Director called Julie… 

Julie came to me and said she felt like she didn't want to be a leader anymore. It was too much, it was too hard, and it was wearing her down. She'd been in her first ever leadership role for 2 years and said she felt like she'd been holding her breath that whole time. Every time something went wrong, she felt blindsided, she felt like she was under attack, because no part of her mind or body felt this was safe and she was having a physiological reaction to it.  

She loved what being a leader meant i.e., making a difference, creating positive change, having more of a voice, impact, and influence over how a practice is run, mentoring people etc. She put her all into it. But there was a part of her that thought, "If I put my all into this, then one day it will pay off; one day it will become easy, and everything will be smooth sailing."  

She was fighting a losing battle to reach the final destination of “easy”. And a fight it was. It was exhausting!  

This was impacting her relationship with the team, the quality of her presence as a leader, and the team’s trust and faith in her.   

Julie and I worked together to reframe what these challenges and obstacles meant and changed how she responded to challenges. We looked at her fear of uncertainty and the unknown, and I showed her how to leap and grow her wings on the way down.  

These days, Julie is pretty much unflappable. Does she face challenges? Yes. In fact, she's a multi-site CD now so her responsibilities have increased. She faces probably 3x as many challenges as she did before and takes them all in her stride.  

What's different now?  

She's comfortable with discomfort.  

Top Tips 

Here are three ways you can learn to be comfortable with discomfort... 

  1. Recognise where you are in the growth cycle (see blog:, because it will give more meaning to the challenges you face, and a deeper understanding of what needs to happen to move through it.  
  2. Commit to doing a series of small courageous things to expand the boundaries of your comfort zone. Write a list of things that scare you and intentionally stretch yourself, don't wait for it to happen to you.  
  3. Learn, apply, learn, apply, learn apply. When it comes to growth, you can't hasten the harvest. In other words, you can't rush to the other side of discomfort just because you WANT to, but you can do all you can to extract the lessons and apply the wisdom.