The Willingness To Be Uncomfortable: 4 Reasons Why

During a recent discussion about the future of trade associations, a colleague, Roger Deshaies, repeated a phrase that I have heard him repeat over the years – that innovative leaders experience “the willingness to be uncomfortable” as a necessary part of their success. In the context of trade associations, many are struggling to be relevant in the new marketplace because this willingness is lacking.

Why is “the willingness to be uncomfortable” so essential for successful, innovative leadership?

  • The status quo of most organizations is heavily influenced by personal and professional fear of the unknown. As such, it is an obstacle to change. Effective leaders recognize the status quo for what it represents and make it clear to their team that they are willing to experience the discomfort that comes when one looks to the future. Strong leaders lose some sleep about the unknown, but they are not disabled by sleep deprivation.
  • Discomfort helps open the doors of perceived opportunity. While many run for their corner as their anxiety increases, successful leaders are less triggered and more intrigued about new found possibilities for action. It is not uncommon to hear an entrepreneur say, “when I stopped fighting over the details it came to me.”
  • Leaders who embrace discomfort intelligently are sought by others who themselves are creative. They believe that they can accomplish their goals and live their professional vision in the company of those who are willing to risk their comfort. This fact reaches across generations, further strengthening the cause of the uncomfortable leader.
  • Willingness + discomfort can accelerate action, especially the execution of strategic scenarios in the face of internal and external obstacles. The desire to be comfortable rarely encourages effective action and most often discourages it.

Discomfort for discomfort’s sake is not the point. The willingness to be uncomfortable is a commitment to success and the future. Effective leaders know this and act accordingly, while encouraging others to move with them into a more dynamic view of opportunity.