“The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more comfortable you will become.”
-Conor McGregor, UFC Champion
Since about 4 weeks ago, I’ve been trying to practice the art of seeking out discomfort. I heard from many different successful people that the feeling of being uncomfortable can be used as a guiding compass to help you identify the direction that you need to be going to become a better version of yourself, reach your goals, etc. Whenever you feel resistance in the mind toward anything, usually it’s your mind’s evolutionary mechanism to keep you safe (i.e. your brain rationalizes that “if you’ve been alive thus far doing what you’re doing, don’t do anything different. Anything risky = a chance of death). The quote that got me most curious about exploring this idea more was something along the lines of:
The thing you least want to do is most likely the thing that you should be doing the most.
And this rang true for me. Haven’t you ever thought “err, I don’t want to be doing this right now..” but in the back of your mind you know you should be doing it? For example, if you’re a startup entrepreneur building a company from the ground up, many of you will probably feel resistance in sending out those cold emails and making those sales calls to build your business. Your initial thought would be “this can probably wait…let me do this other thing in the meantime.” You’re lying to yourself in believing that doing something else would still be “productive” but the action that makes you the most uncomfortable is most likely the action that will lead you to the most success that you’re looking for.
Another example would be a highschool basketball player that has high dreams of getting a basketball scholarship to go to college and eventually get drafted to the NBA. We all see scenes in the movies where these kids are shooting countless free throws in the middle of the night. But in reality, do all of these kids do practice shots for hours every single night for a year? Probably after 2 weeks straight, their minds tell them that it’s OK to take a day off and mental resistance starts to build up. But to get to NBA level of basketball mastery, you have to break through the barrier of mental resistance. An athletic trainer for the Team USA basketball team shared a story of how he was woken up by Kobe Bryant at 4:15 AM to do some 1-on-1 conditioning work. After training Kobe, the trainer went back to bed and came back to the court at 11AM for team training. He discovered that Kobe had stayed at the court to make 800 shots and never left. It’s ridiculous work ethic, but that’s what it takes for him to be at the level he wants to perform at.
For me, I’m trying to develop a “mental radar” where everytime I feel uncomfortable doing ANYTHING, I try to think about why I feel uncomfortable and then just do it. I feel uncomfortable going to the gym? I go. I feel uncomfortable sitting down for 20 minutes to meditate? I do it. I feel uncomfortable at the thought of developing more code for my business and making some business calls over the weekend? I definitely do it. At this point, it’s almost become like a game to me, and 9 times out of 10, I do realize that the things that I feel resistance toward doing are actually things that deep down I know I should really be doing immediately. I feel like I’m developing another mental muscle, and now it’s almost fun when I feel mental resistance, because I feel like my mind is helping me uncover a piece of gold that could really help me if I do it. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.