Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable – stretching your internal barriers to achieve success

Monica Mathijs | Developing People. Developing organisations

“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.”

Dale Carnegie

I recently spoke to a client who was uncomfortable about asking for a monetary value for the work they do. They find money to be an awkward topic, an area of their lives which causes some stress and tension. By talking them through the approach they could take, how to position the messaging and what the resulting outcome would be if the other party said no, we started to prepare them to take action. Once we discussed the options, potential outcomes, how they’d feel in various conditions, they were ready to take the plunge.

The point between fear and doing something is small yet the fear we feel, the nerves, the debilitation, the worry and the rejection stops us from taking the plunge. “Feel the fear and do it anyway” said Susan Jeffers. When we have stretched, when we have overcome what we fear, a new us is created, who we are has stretched and we become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”

Henry Ford

I remember in the early days of my corporate life, I spoke very little in meetings, then when someone else said what I was thinking or wanted to say, I felt gutted, I felt like it was not fair. In such situations, logical thinking would say that the power and the choice was with me, I could choose whether or not to speak.

After some time, I overcome this challenge, I started to speak, I started to lead and facilitate meetings, now I have a lot to say, perhaps I over talk, yes there needs to be a balance. My point here is that, until we take the plunge, until we get comfortable to then achieve something, we will not overcome our own internal and external barriers. Why don’t we get out of our own way and proactively do something about it…

Here are some things you can do to prepare you for those things which you know you want to overcome, those conversations you want to have or those steps you need to take:

  • Clarity: be clear about what you want. The greater the clarity you have, the more you can prepare yourself.
  • Why: Simon Sinek talks about what’s your “why”. Understand and know the reasons and motivations to do this, why do you want to overcome, why do you want to take this step. Another element of the why is to ask yourself why you are afraid, what is causing you to stop yourself to achieve your dreams – this can be anything, once we know and understand, we can be true to ourselves and our fears.
  • Structure: plan and structure what you want to say or do. For example, it is a difficult conversation, how would you want it to flow? If it is to speak up in meetings, know how you will do this?
  • Practice: practice what you will say and do. What tone will you use when speaking, how will you position your body language? Ask a friend or someone you trust to help you prepare, you can do role-plays where the scenarios go in different directions – this is where a coach can be really effective and useful.
  • Visualize: we mustn’t under estimate the value of visualization, research has shown that the brain believes something is actually happening when we visualise. Use this technique to imagine, feel and experience how you want the event to go.
  • Enjoy the experience: once you have overcome this barrier and taken the steps, once you have delivered what you wanted to, reflect on it and commend your efforts and commitment. No matter what the results, you went out of your comfort zone and overcame a fear.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela

Monica is the CEO and Founder of Our Stillness and Firefly Today. She is a change agent having worked across many projects and industries.