143. Being uncomfortable can be comfortable.

My friend Joel is one of those people who lives his life by always facing his fears head on regardless of how difficult the task may be.

He is the living embodiment of a new habit I would like to introduce today: The Habit of Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.

I first met Joel several years ago at a workshop I attended. His was the first hand raised when the facilitator asked for a volunteer to come up on the stage and participate in a demonstration of extemporaneous speaking.

Joel bounded up on the stage exuding a level of confidence that belied the fact that on the inside every cell in his body was quivering with fear.

He performed flawlessly and when I introduced myself during the next break and complimented him on the fine job he had done he sheepishly grinned at me and explained that his only reason for dashing up to the stage was to overcome his lifelong fear of public speaking.

We exchanged contact information and several weeks later I called Joel and suggested we meet over coffee.

I was fascinated to hear his story of why he chose to overcome his fear of speaking in front of an audience numbering several hundred people.

His answer has become one of the mainstays of my own philosophy and I am forever grateful to have learned the lesson I learned from this role model.

Joel explained to me that he learned early in life that in order to get ahead and succeed it is imperative, for most people, to learn how to endure pain, i.e. the pain of doing the very things they need to do to be successful and yet which feel unnatural and uncomfortable.

He pledged to himself that fear, unwillingness and discomfort would never keep him from reaching upwards towards his goals and, through repeated experience, has taught himself that while discomfort is a fact of life, it is quite possible to go through this by becoming comfortable.

The Habit of Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable has enabled Joel to build a very successful career in the high rejection business of direct sales and has also helped him overcome his fear of heights by skydiving, his fear of water by scuba diving and his fear of rejection by choosing a career in which rejection is part of each day’s work.

As I got to know him he told me that his motivation to live this way came from observing his father, “an extreme introvert, afraid of his own shadow,” who would never venture even as much is one millimetre outside of his comfort zone.

He watched his father turn down opportunity after opportunity as he struggled to overcome the demons of fear which controlled his life.

Using his father as a reverse role model Joel, committed to facing his every fear head-on and to doing so with a sense of comfort that spurred him every greater accomplishments.

The Habit of Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable is a gift to ourselves without which many of us will deny ourselves much of the “what could have been” that fear and discomfort might prevent us from ever attempting.

With a smile on his face Joel explained to him to me that there is one fear he still has, and doesn’t want to lose; his fear is that he will lose his willingness to be comfortable with being uncomfortable which would then prevent him from doing the things he wants or needs to do in order to produce certain results in his life.

Those of us who have faced some of our own fears have very quickly learned that those very things we fear rarely occur, and if they do, their effect is almost always minuscule when compared to what we anticipated.

The Habit of Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable is a great idea.

Why not start right now?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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