Be Uncomfortable & Transform Your World
by Pegine Echevarria
I watched the bells toll for the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks and was taken by the faces of the families and friends attending the ceremonies. Their strength and determination to live, their commitment to their family and their city was evident in their faces.
Standing next to each other, they were a diverse group of people united by the pain of a human event. All ages, all colours, all religions, all ethnicities were together as one. It was a reflection of the new world—a global, intertwined and interdependent group that is more dependent on each other than ever before. They were brought together by an unfortunate, tragic and senseless event.
I was reminded of our work teams. How are we different from each other? How are we the same? My daughter was transformed by September 11. September 11 motivated my then eleven-year-old to create a team of action-oriented kids to take care of the kids who lost their parents in the World Trade towers, specifically the children of lost firefighters. A diverse group of kids from around the country united. My daughter is quiet, reserved and not at all comfortable being in the limelight. Her purpose was more important though, she was willing to be uncomfortable and talk to the media, make presentations and encourage others because she needed to help.
Her transformation didn’t stop there though. She pushed herself to be uncomfortable and try new situations, exposed herself to new ideas and experiences. She has travelled to different countries including Finland and India to meet people from different backgrounds and different countries making the world, her world, a reflection of global unity. Now, in college, she is in the Army ROTC program.
Why? According to her, “If only one type of person joins the Army then we will be limited in our creativity and in our ability to not only protect ourselves but prevent other attacks. When only similar people sit around a table with similar beliefs and ideas then the same old conclusions appear, the same solutions appear and we are stuck. My country needs me to bring new ideas, new views and new perspective because it is a new world.” (Makes a mom proud!) She is comfortable being uncomfortable.
How about you? Are you hiring the same kinds of people? Do you eat dinner with people who are the same as you? Are you limiting yourself? Holding yourself back because those people you stay with make you feel comfortable? Perhaps it is time to grow. Time for you to explore this new world and make friends with new kinds of people, different people. Time to expand your world. Maybe it is time for you to be uncomfortable.
It is only when we are uncomfortable that we grow and change.
What makes you feel uncomfortable? Attending a party where you don’t know anyone? Making a presentation? Talking to someone who is different than you in gender, race, ethnicity or religion? Going to dinner with a diverse group?
Why not let yourself be uncomfortable, even if you get tongue-tied, nervous, or frustrated?
When you go to a party where you don’t know someone, breathe deeply, and head directly to someone who is different, put your hand out to introduce yourself, ask their name and what brought them to the event.
When making a presentation give them a piece of candy as a prize. You will quickly make friends and they will love you for it! May not be healthy but it works.
When talking to someone who is different than you ask, “What would I find surprising about you that I couldn’t tell from looking at you?” It is amazing what you will learn. I am always glad that I asked because I always learn something so interesting. By the way be really interested in them when you ask.
Find the most diverse people you can and invite them to dinner. Expose yourself to new people. Don’t know any diverse people? Take a class in a different part of the city to meet new people. Volunteer at a different school than your kid’s school.
When you are in an uncomfortable situation follow this process:
Breathe. Really focus on your breathing. Often times when we are uncomfortable, we breathe in shallow breaths. This makes us even more stressed. By forcing ourselves to breathe deeply we begin to take control of the situation.
What is the goal? When we get uncomfortable we lose track of the goal. What did we want to accomplish at this moment? I get uncomfortable when I feel like I have too much on my to-do list. When that occurs I have to review my list. What is income producing? What is truly necessary to accomplish today?
Is this a habit? Often being uncomfortable is a habit. Sometimes we are so addicted to the drama around being uncomfortable that we make ourselves feel uncomfortable when it really isn’t necessary just because it is what we have always done. Humans, we can be weird sometimes.
Expect the best. We get uncomfortable because we expect bad things to happen, the boogie man will get us. When we start to expect the best we find that we eliminate our uncomfortable feelings. Of course in the beginning we can feel uncomfortable because we are expecting different outcomes then we have before. Do it anyway and expect the best.
Called or stopped by your local fire station and said thank you?
Stopped to thank your local police professional?
Given a flower to someone in a wheel chair?
Told your wife/husband how wonderful they are?
Given a cake to a neighbour?
Just smiled at someone in the elevator?
Corny? Yes. Powerful? ABSOLUTELY!
Thought of the Month:
”Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” — Brian Tracy
Magazines describe Pegine as one of the top motivational success and leadership experts with business and team building experience! Her teambuilding and motivational programs are experiential, fun and filled with content. Companies use her to motivate people, develop strong leaders & teams, and increase productivity. For more success, leadership and team building information visit her website at www.pegine.com.