“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.” —Albert Einstein
As we are developing new behaviors, attitudes and skills in our growth as leaders, the process of change can sometimes feel really hard, awkward, and uncomfortable.
(No, really, I mean it: Yippee!)
Our discomfort is worth celebrating because feeling uncomfortable actually means we are growing and developing. Specifically, it means that we are building new neural pathways.
Not that that’s easy, necessarily.
You can think about it like this: imagine you’ve been taking the same route to a familiar destination for a long time.
But one day you learn that one of the bridges on the road is faulty and in need of repair. So you need to find a new way to get to your destination.
The new way might feel weird – there might be new scenery, unfamiliar terrain, unusual twists and turns in this new route. You might find yourself accidentally heading towards the “old’ route without being aware – catching yourself on autopilot.
The growth and change process is really brain road construction: laying new pathways to the destinations we want to reach.
To support yourself through growth and change, try this:
1) Notice. What “roads” are you currently on? Pay careful attention to your recurrent thoughts and feelings. What do you notice or are aware of? Journalling can be a helpful tool in becoming more aware of your emotions and thoughts, including the common theme songs of your inner critic.
2) Assess. What recurrent thoughts and feelings are perhaps old, outdated or not really working for you? Where do you know you are less successful, frustrated, or stuck?
3) Mind the gap. When you notice yourself pursuing a thought that is less helpful, how can you “catch” yourself? Just becoming aware of what pulls us off the mark can be a helpful first step in getting back on a more useful mental track. As one of my teachers says, noticing yourself unaware is the actually a moment of awareness.
4) Lay some fresh pavement. What new roads are you building? What thoughts and feelings support the behavior and actions you want to be taking? How can you cultivate and support the new changes you are putting in place?
In the Comments below, I’d love to get your take on this. Let me know:
– How do you celebrate discomfort and growth in your journey?
– What new pathways are you creating now?
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Hanna, What a great reminder. As I prepare to do one of my least favorite tasks of making marketing calls, I was thinking about beginning with the most difficult and moving toward the easiest. It takes discipline to do this, but it is where the growing edge is.
Hanna Cooper, MPH, PCC, CPCC, ORSCC says
Grace, thanks for commenting, and good luck with the calls! You’re a natural at taking on this growing edge for yourself!