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“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.

Motivation changes exactly nobody. The bad hand that was my life was mine, and mine alone to fix.” David Goggins
Few months back I read a book called “Can’t hurt me “by David Goggins. It’s a story about how the author transformed from being an abused and unprivileged child to being an overweight bug exterminator to eventually becoming the thirty-sixth African-American Navy SEAL. I figured I’d share with you one key lesson I’ve learnt from this man.
I noticed Goggins is an obsessive person in some aspects of his life. He became obsessed with learning, running and physical fitness training. He started from an extremely low level in all of that he was obsessed with. Before taking the test to enter the Air Force, he read like a second grader, so he had to teach himself to read so he could pass the tests. Before joining the Navy SEALs, he weighed nearly 300 pounds, more than a hundred pounds over the weight limit for entering into NAVY, and with only two months to lose the weight. He did it with an insane amount of obsession.
He says that Motivation doesn’t last. It comes and goes just like feelings. We watch/ read something inspirational and get motivated and then we have one bad day, all our motivation is gone. If you want to achieve something in life, we need to focus on giving our best consistently and that focus comes only with Obsession.
Be obsessed with whatever you are doing. It can be anything, learning, writing, technology/coding, goals or your work. When you are obsessed, you won’t let go easily. Get to a point in your life, when you don’t do what you are supposed to do, it should haunt you and eat you away for not doing it. Also, obsession helps you push yourself to go further and harder than before. Pick something you want to improve in your life, which you struggle to get “motivated” to improve. Get “obsessed “with that and see yourself achieving it ! If it doesn’t kill you for not putting enough efforts to achieve it you are not there yet!

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.”― Mark Victor Hansen
Have you ever wondered what makes someone successful? What makes someone good at academics? What makes someone a top performer? Why do some people achieve their goals while others do not? When we answer these questions, we usually think that their talent and intelligence is what makes them successful but researchers say that talent only accounts for 30% of their achievement. Then what makes a bigger impact than talent? It’s their MENTAL TOUGHNESS.
Mental Toughness is the ability to move towards our goals, irrespective of what the circumstance might be. People who are mentally tough, just don’t adapt well in face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or stressful situations but they also thrive in such situations. Irrespective of whatever the situation might look like, they face the challenges head on and find ways to thrive.
Have you ever heard of astronaut – Chris Hadfield? I’d like to share with you a really fascinating story about his experience during a spacewalk where he exhibited incredible mental toughness. During his first space walk there was contamination inside his suit that got into one of his eyes and stopped it from working but he kept doing the work he was doing with the help of his other eye. Since there is no gravity the tears from the contaminated eye balled up and flowed to the other eye through his nose. Now, his other eye was also contaminated and he couldn’t see completely.
Imagine if we were in this situation what would our reaction be? I bet we would’ve been cripplingly scared and panicked but Chris maintained his calm. Instead of being worried and overly dramatic with the problem he was thinking of ways to try and solve the problem. He says in an interview “In this case I was incapacitated to some degree but I could talk, I could think, I was still fine, I could communicate with everybody, I just couldn’t see.” In the end he did come up with a solution, he opened the purge valve of his suit and let the contaminated atmosphere exit. Once the contaminated air was out, he was able to see again.
He says that there were only two things on his mind in that moment when he completely lost his vision while floating in the outer space.
1) He was thinking about what caused the problem and what the solution could be.
2) He was frustrated because he couldn’t do the things that he was supposed to do.
He should be building this huge robot arm on the outside on the spaceship but he was floating uselessly. Even when he wasn’t sure if he’d regain his sight, he was all concerned about finding a solution to the problem and completing his mission. To become successful we need to cultivate this kind of mental toughness – the grit – the perseverance and passion to achieve our goals.
In ordinary course of events, our life holds some good times and some bad times as well. Everybody has to face some stress, challenge, pain and tragedy in one form or another. But the way we respond to such hardships makes a difference. Some people wilt and crumble and quit when things go badly but others seem to consistently rise to the situation, no matter how bad it is, meet their challenges courageously and confidently. The one thing that separates those who weather the storms in their life well and those who are consumed by them is their Mental Toughness.
In the recent months, we all have seen a redefinition of life in an unprecedented scale. The shifts we’re seeing have affected nearly every aspect of our lives, so it’s essential to develop the mental toughness to stay strong and resilient in the face of adversity. We cannot have control over all the difficult circumstances in our life, but we can retain a sense of stability by controlling how we respond to hardships. Feeling strong and balanced allows us to adapt to changing circumstances more readily and find creative solutions to problems, which is important to achieve our goals.