Recently, I was asked what advice would I give to an 18-year-old, about to enter his freshman year at college? I didn’t even hesitate to provide four simple words: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
I first heard this phrase at a campus orientation event at the start of my oldest child’s freshman year almost a decade ago. It was as pertinent for her then as it was for my next child four years later, and for my youngest last fall.
It would have been pertinent for me, as well, had I heard it when I launched my business in 2008. And it’s advice I share every day with the student entrepreneurs I counsel at the university and the startup founders I mentor in the local ecosystem.
So, I’m sharing it with you now, dear reader, whether it’s your turn to make the transition from childhood to adulthood, to take the leap from dreamer to doer, or simply to choose a new path in life.
Why are you sharing this, you might be asking, and how is this pertinent to me? Well, after spending nearly every waking moment of your life in familiar territory thus far – whether that’s over the past year or two, or the past two decades or more– every waking moment to come is going to be unfamiliar, for quite a while. You may be moving to a new city, navigating a new campus, making new friends, learning to live with a new roommate, joining a new team, working for a new boss, learning new skills, adapting to a new time zone, breathing in a new atmosphere, etc., etc.
Suddenly, everything will be new, new, new! And with newness often comes discomfort – unfamiliar settings and situations, awkward moments, and anxiety, even mistakes. So, in other words, you will need to get used to being uncomfortable.
And, more important, you will need to learn to find comfort in, and even seek out, the change that’s upon you. In other words, “embrace the suck,” as the SEALs say. The reward for doing that is the ability to achieve success. Change is hard at times, for sure, yet change is necessary for growth.
That should be your ultimate goal– to grow as much as possible, and to learn as many new things as you can, in the classroom, at the water cooler, and inside your mind. Embrace this transition to a new phase in your life as the opportunity to find out who you want to be “when you grow up,” how you might get there, and who you want to accompany you on this journey.
One more thing: Growing pains don’t stop when you’re no longer a kid or even a kid at heart. As this past year has taught all of us, you will experience uncertainty and alteration at many points over the course of your life. That’s inevitable and, since it’s often out of your control, it’s of little consequence; how you respond to those changes is what matters most.
So, the sooner you learn to “get comfortable being uncomfortable,” the sooner you will be prepared to handle any situation that comes your way, and to accomplish any goal you set out to achieve.
And remember to write this stuff down. Keep notes about your trials and tribulations, listen to your thoughts as you navigate the new twists and turns, record every experience, or everything you can. Keep a notebook or diary, use the voice recording function in your smart phone, or start a blog. Why not? These anecdotes, these bits and pieces of mind and matter, are an important part of you, and those disparate parts comprise the whole of you and are what make you unique.
This “stuff” is the stuff of your story, in other words, so embrace it, as well. Start telling people your story; and don’t be shy, be honest. Especially if you want someone – a partner in life or in business or both – to accompany you on your journey. To (mis)quote Simon Sinek, “people don’t care about what you’re doing, they care about why you’re doing it.” So, tell them, tell them your story. Then the “what” – getting comfortable being uncomfortable – will support what you believe, your “why,” and that will prove compelling.
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What’s YOUR story? Are you experiencing a change right now and dealing with the discomfort? Are you unable to express what you believe in with your audience in a way that inspires them to act?
We can help. We understand that most people struggle to tell their story in a way that gets results. Mortimer Communications offers a simple process to craft a more engaging narrative that inspires your audience to act, and lets you achieve your goals. Head over to our website to find out how.
And, as an incentive, we’re offering a FREE e-guide, Why Don’t They Understand My Story?: Three Simple Tips for Ensuring Your Messaging is Working. It’s a quick read and shares a sampling of our “secret sauce” to help you start telling a better story today. Just click here, fill out the form, and we’ll send it to you. When you do that, you’ll get signed up to receive our newsletter and emails, which allows us to stay in touch and to share storytelling resources, tips, and other useful information, about once a month.
Also, if it’s been awhile since we’ve spoken, feel free to schedule a meeting to catch up. I’d love to find out what you’ve been up to, what changes you may be planning for the remainder of the year, and how we can help.
Henry Mortimer is a communications expert who has been distilling noise into compelling narratives for 30+ years. He launched Mortimer Communications in 2008 to help others craft authentic, compelling stories to help organizations and individuals increase sales, improve customer satisfaction, and fuel growth.