Louis C.K. on Positive Discomfort

It’s easy to start feeling content. Just ask any leader who has stopped being innovative. I prefer to take the Louis C.K. approach.

“You’ve got to embrace discomfort,” acclaimed comedian Louis C.K. recently said. “It’s the only way you can put yourself in situations where you can learn, and the only way you can keep your senses fresh once you’re there.”

Once a leader has reached a particular goal, there’s a natural tendency to relax. Initially, the break is intended to last a day or two so you can recharge your mental batteries.  A few days becomes a week, which becomes a month. Next thing you know, the quarter is over and you have nothing to show for it.

The only easy day was yesterday. – SEAL training motto

Louis C.K. tells a great story about when his all-white junior high underwent integration as a result of the civil rights movement. He wanted to get to know this group of people for whom he had no previous familiarity. So he began sitting with them at lunch. “It was awkward and scary, but I made a lot of black friends, and that was the only way to do it. It had to be uncomfortable…Sometimes discomfort is the only way through.”

Leaders need to test themselves daily. You need to push harder that you did yesterday. Test another limit. Do something out of your comfort zone that will stretch your mind and result in another opportunity to learn something new.