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Hustler’s Mantra: Embrace Discomfort


“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”- Jack Canfield, the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul
 
All of us sort of live in a comfort zone. It’s like a bubble that surrounds us and it’s everything we are comfortable with. Whenever we bump against the walls of our comfort zone, we subconsciously turn away, leave from that discomfort and end up never doing it. Staying in this kind of comfort zone is unsafe in a long term. We need discomfort in order to grow. If we stick with what is comfortable, we’re giving up any hope of finding greatness. So it’s really important that we cultivate and embrace discomfort in our daily life. Instead of fleeing from uncomfortable situations we have to learn to face in, embrace it, and really become at peace with it.
 
The first step to cultivating discomfort is to be aware when you’re uncomfortable. You have to be present of your discomfort. The second step is, once you’re aware of this discomfort, embrace it and the next time when you have to experience it, instead of running away from it you push into it head on and you really kind of accept it.
 
I’ll share with you two tools that will help you lean in discomfort. One of them is a really simple test called coffee test. All you have to do is go into any coffee shop and whatever you order ask them for ten percent off. Don’t give them a reason, don’t justify it. This is a very simple and easy way to cultivate discomfort and implements the ability to actively go out and seek things that are uncomfortable.
 
The second way is through a process called social skydiving. It is just walking up to a conversation, usually with a group of people that you don’t know at all. And just kind of join the conversation and, immediately insert yourself into it and start talking to people. The key to social skydiving is that when you’re entering into this situation, you don’t know what you’re going to say, you don’t know what they’re talking about, and you just throw yourself into this situation. It’s really hard to do it but, the more you do it, the more you cultivate discomfort.
 
Those are two very practical ways that you can cultivate discomfort. I’m an introvert, so it is something that is sort of terrifying for me to do but still I have planned to try it.
 
Embracing Discomfort is like building a muscle. Every time you get to the edge of your comfort zone, just push into that discomfort. The first time you do something that’s really uncomfortable, it’s scary. The second or third time it’s still nerve-wracking but you know that you’ve done it once before and it gets a little bit easier. The hundredth time that you do something, it’s starting to be fun and easy and it’s almost enjoyable because you’ve done it so many times.
 
“A person’s success in life can usually be determined by the number of uncomfortable conversations they’re willing to have”- Tim Ferris. The more uncomfortable conversations, the sale pitches, the tough business negotiations, whatever that may be, the better you get and the broader that sort of sphere of comfort expands to.
 
I would like to share a story about my own discomfort and how I kinda overcame it. I had terrible stage fright. During my MBA days, we were required to present case studies and articles almost every day. I was terrified of getting on the dais to give the presentations. The thought of doing so itself would make me sick, so in order to escape that I used to take up all the activities like finding the solution to the case, preparing the presentation except for the presenting part which I used to direct to my team mates.
 
But, sometimes we were asked to make presentations alone and not with a group. During those single presentations, I would start shaking, stuttering and pausing during my speech. It feels like having a black out, I used to totally forget about what I’m presenting, the only thing that would be on my mind in the fear of making mistakes and being judged.
 
I realized that this can’t go on; either I have to force myself to face this fear and get better at it or avoid it and never reach my full potential. I started by mustering up the courage to present small topics during group presentations. I used to rehearse my part in front of my friends. I gave myself short pep talks like “You have got this, Jero! “, before stepping onto the dais. Initially things were difficult, I did stammer and pause but then when I started doing it more often by volunteering to take up more presentations I gradually improved. I wasn’t having the panic attacks anymore. Facing my fear more often made me overcome it. Today, I’m able to make presentations and talk in front of a crowd more comfortably than I was before.
 
Whether it’s public speaking, or social skydiving, or selling, or whatever it might be, whatever thing discomforts you…Face it and build that muscle to embrace discomfort, things that once seemed scary and uncomfortable will become first… sort of less scary, then less scarier and eventually you will become good at it.

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