Several people reminded me this week how crucial discomfort is to growing. Then Bill Eckstrom convinced me beyond the shadow of a doubt with his presentation on growth rings. According to him, “order and predictability in life limit the way we think and act,” and “growth only occurs in a state of discomfort. When you feel discomfort hit, that means you’ve entered the complexity ring.”
During complexity, we force ourselves to solve new problems, meet new people and find new pools of wisdom. According to Bill, there are three ways in life to trigger a complexity ring:
1. Complexity can be forced on you – You get fired, someone dies, you get picked on, you have a disability, or a disaster happens.
2. Someone can help you experience complexity: Someone can force you to seek challenges where “critical developmental decisions are made.”
3. You can trigger complexity yourself: You disrupt your own order, walk into scary situations, go on new adventures, and let your curiosity introduce you to new challenges.
The greatest of all entrepreneurs, parents, teachers, and leaders spend their lives in a perpetual state of accepting, experiencing, and forcing these three complexity triggers on themselves and others. If you need any proof, just ask Jesus, Ghandi, Rosa Parks, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, MLK, Jobs, Steven Hawking, Elon, Ellen, or any of the Parkland Survivors.
If you feel yourself encountering discomfort today, congratulations! Big things and a better you are around the corner. I can’t wait to see them.
If you feel yourself feeling comfortable, consider this a warning sign that you aren’t growing.
Remember, you can choose to disrupt your own order, pursue your curiosity, and grow if you’ll just have the courage.