Trent Reznor on Discomfort

When’s the last time you challenged yourself? I’m not talking about a tight deadline or someone else’s directive; when is the last time you purposely put yourself in an uncomfortable position? Trent Reznor has made a habit out of this.

Trent is frontman for the band Nine Inch Nails, a film composer, and Chief Creative Officer of Beats Music (yes, the company Apple just purchased for $3 billion). Trent’s impressive resume is the result of his need to challenge himself with innovative situations.

I find it very important to keep myself in a state of not getting comfortable–trying to push myself into things that feel unfamiliar…I’m trying to avoid any sort of resting on laurels or repeating myself.

Many people strive to become leaders so they can be in control and stop feeling uncomfortable. What they don’t understand is that leadership is not an end; it is the beginning of a whole new set of challenges.

We need to push ourselves every day. Trent does this by asking himself how he can “arrange the room a little differently”:

Usually that involves changing the routine, changing the process itself. That could be anything from using different instruments, working with different people, just trying new things. It’s really trying to relentlessly, fearlessly push forward.

This can be scary. It involves tapping into your insecurities and examining why you hesitate to explore particular avenues. When Trent was working on his most recent album, Hesitation Marks, he started with a ‘let’s see what happens’ approach.

I didn’t overthink it, I didn’t think about how it would fit in the canon of Nine Inch Nails, I didn’t care about what reviews would say. It organically came from a place that felt really exciting.

So start experimenting. When your next challenge presents itself, approach it from a different direction. Collect input from people outside your normal scope. You won’t succeed every time (if you do, you are playing it too safe), but your future endeavors will be better for it.

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