We all face barriers, misfortunes and obstacles in our lives. Most of us also struggle with internal resistance, procrastination, and distractions. To conquer these, often all we need is a one small idea and the courage and tenacity to see it through. Whether it is finishing college after a head injury, overcoming fear of rejection, or choosing to follow an idea outside your comfort zone – in every case success follows. However, despite the occasional victory, many of us still feel stuck. We live with this vague, gnawing sensation that “there should be something more”. Doubt creeps in our souls. Can we all reach higher? Are we made of the same cloth as the top guys? If yes – what is the line that separates us from “them”? From the Elon Musks and Serena Williams of the World.

Part of the problem is that we believe as adults that we are entitled to comfort. We have completed all tests and exams and school is out forever. We graduated and it is now time to live. We can relax, get a regular paycheck and get to enjoy life for a change. It is good to be comfortable. This includes avoiding conflict or rejection as much as possible. This means giving in to our internal resistance or accepting our circumstances. If our paycheck doesn’t allow us to drive the car that we want – then let’s calculate what we can afford. We settle – one step at a time. We call it ‘compromise’, we call it ‘prudence’ and we call it ‘realistic’. We choose words that look good so we can feel comfortable with our choices. We do this to remove ourselves from the feeling of responsibility for our own less-than-100% decisions. What is worse – we don’t even see this ‘comfortable adult’ as a problem. We want to be a comfortable adult. So we make that a habit.

Deep down we are aware of this problem. Kind of. If we do exceptional work, we have to move up, right? It is what we believe and this conviction does not contradict our ‘comfortable adult’ choice. We believe that all we have to do is work hard, do a great job and it will happen. Somehow life owes us this. Oftentimes, during our honeymoon at a new job, this blind belief is rewarded. We bust our chops, we get recognized and we get a pat on the back. It is this pat on the back that changes our attitude from “blind belief” to “justified belief.” Our idea that hard work pays off is proven correct, so we place more trust in the system. When what we think is true turns out to be true, we trust ourselves all the more. And we never revisit our ‘comfortable adult’ choice.

One of the things that make us successful is our ability to change. To recognize when it matters and take active steps to “move our own cheese”. This is how we succeed – no matter what we define success to be. We succeed by learning to use ‘uncomfortable’ and not by avoiding it.

Originally posted on Aug 14, 2015 on LinkedIn