Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

“If it’s from the sea, it’s not for me”. Less than a decade ago that was my mantra had anyone dared try to serve me seafood. Needless to say, I did not have the most diverse palette.  I used to think I knew what I liked, and that I was more than happy with my baked chicken breast, quinoa, or scrambled eggs. Why go out of my comfort zone when I was perfectly content with the dining options in front of me?

With international travel clearly not a thing, it’s easy to reminisce about 2019 and an amazing trip I took to New Orleans with my new (at the time) wife. Picture this; I’m with my wife, clapping along with a live brass band in the heart of New Orleans, ripping the head off of crawfish, sucking out their ‘brain juice’ (apparently that’s where most of the flavour is), and extracting a tiny piece of meat from the little armoured crustacean. Most importantly? I’m loving every second of it.

So what happened? Did my palette magically evolve, opening up a whole (under-water) world of delicious food options? Maybe. However, thinking back over the past few years, I am fairly certain it wasn’t my palette which evolved, it was my mind. I’ve been actively trying to become more comfortable with things which bring me discomfort.

This seems counterintuitive, no? Humans typically seek pleasure while avoiding pain. No one likes feeling uncomfortable. However, experts are increasingly identifying that this concept of being comfortable with discomfort is a critical component of your performance, creativity, and
lifelong learning.

A recent Forbes article articulated it best, when they discussed the impact of habits and routine. ‘Routines may make you feel at ease and in control, but what a constant routine really does is dull your sensitivities. Think about the times in your life when you’ve driven the same route repeatedly: after a certain number of trips, you start tuning out most of it.’ 

Pause for a moment and ask yourself, how many areas of your life are actually on auto- pilot? For decades I had my diet on auto-pilot, missing out on so many incredible dining experiences. How is your auto-pilot setting impacting how you interact with friends and colleagues? How you tackle tasks at work? How you live your life?

So, what can we do about this? For both yourself and your employees or teammates, how can we begin to get more comfortable with this concept of discomfort? Who better to discuss resiliency than a serving Green Beret. In an Inc. article*, Jason Van Camp identifies 7 ways to actively improve your ability to work through discomfort:

  1. Start
  2. Don’t Quit
  3. Push yourself past your comfort zone
  4. Embrace “the suck”
  5. Be around like-minded people (& potentially marry one)
  6. Recognize your improvements
  7. Rinse & Repeat

The world of work is becoming increasingly dynamic, with the only constant being change. Technology continues to disrupt, and disruption makes it very hard to rely on routines or ‘the way things used to be’. It’s easy to see why this could be scary. Don’t be afraid of the crawfish. Embrace the deliciousness of trying something new.

I’d love to hear from you, and some positive discomfort you recently injected into your own life. How did it feel? Feel free to connect on

LinkedIn: or at
[email protected]

*Go deeper into the Inc. article here. 

Joshua Siegal is currently the VP, Organizational Effectiveness at Wave. Wave is an award-winning financial services software company, with more than 250 employees serving entrepreneurs and freelancers around the world. When not driving effectiveness at Wave, Josh is training for his amateur boxing debut as a part of The Fight to End Cancer.

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