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Deep Thoughts

This is why we don’t grow

The purpose of both my 9-5 and side projects are to help fellow humans grow.

Generally, everyone is open to growth, they’re excited about it and strive for more of it once they understand the benefits it can bring.

Yet, the problem I’ve always encountered is that we all love the idea of growth and the benefits it brings, however not many are willing to go to the zones of discomfort where real growth exists.

Growth happens where the most difficult stuff exists.

This is the way it has always been. The same story over and over, a challenge is put in front of you and you must rise to it in order to reach your next level of potential.

Sadly, a lot of people give up when they realise “Shit, I have to feel this uncomfortable? No thanks, I’ll stay over here where I know it’s safe”. This behaviour is what separates the talkers and the doers.

Those who really want to grow, will face that discomfort zone. This doesn’t mean it’s easy or they are superhuman. IT just means they’re willing to be vulnerable, willing to take the knocks and give it all they’ve got.

They would rather see than not know.

Navigating through the discomfort

In the world today, it’s popular to adopt practices like yoga, meditation, journaling and positive psychology to navigate the big milestones of life.

The problem is very few of us ever get to test the value of these practices as we do as much as possible to avoid anything outside our comfort zone.

Don’t worry, it’s not all your fault. It’s part of all of our biological programming.

Our mind was built to run away from fire and perceived danger, not to run towards it. So, you’re only fighting your natural instincts. It comes to a matter of rewiring our thinking to look at these challenges as opportunities rather than threats.

The practices we adopt may or may not help us but we won’t know unless we try to take on challenges. This reminds me of a quote from boxing legend, Mike Tyson, who said “ Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”.

And that’s the problem for a lot of us. We have a plan, we practice but then don’t want to execute any of it in the challenging environment to see if any of it will work. So we could say that the punching in said face is what we need for growth.

Dammit I’m stuck

What I notice with people unable to grow in their career and/or life in general, is their will and mindset.

They’re more than happy to attend a class, read a book or watch a video but will run from any opportunity to actually be in a zone where they’re uncomfortable and not 100% confident in what to do.

Which is a real shame, as what they don’t recognise is the need for these experiences in order to learn and improve. Even if you fail (or think you’ve failed), you always learn.

Remember, no one ever woke up and became a master at something. They went through many experiences, amassed data and learnt how to build the craft they have today. You might look at them now and think, they’ve got it all together but it wasn’t always that way.

They too were just a beginner at one point like us all.

There’s no secret in the simplicity of growth, it all happens in our zones of discomfort. Look, I get it, it can be scary. Experiences full of uncertainty and self doubt are not exactly the options you’re going to pick from the menu of life.

You’re not going to be good at stuff at first (none of us are) but showing up is the toughest part of the battle. A word from the battle weary, make friends with vulnerability. It’s ok not to know everything, and guess what? No one expects you to.

Discomfort + repetition = GROWTH

The beautiful thing about growth is that over time, with constant repetition, those moments of discomfort will evolve into your areas of comfort.

You may not feel like it now but those moments which gave you dread could, over the years, turn into your moments of strength. 

I often say to those I work with that they aren’t expected to know everything, because none of us do, and that’s ok. It’s through experiences of discomfort that we’ll learn what we do well and where we can improve.

The most important thing is repetition, repetition, repetition.

It doesn’t matter if you want to become a better people leader at work, a better partner or better member of your community. The way to growth is through our zones of discomfort.

Believe in the enormity of the possible, embrace vulnerability and learn through experiences.

Anyone can sit atop a peaceful mountain (link to medium article) and claim to be mindful, calm and at peace. That’s not the person I want to listen to.

It’s the person who sits in the busy city filled with unpredictability, juggling all the chaos of life, wearing their scars and muddying their face in continually showing up to their discomfort zones that I not only want to hear from but are those who will experience real growth in this crazy thing we call life.


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