Successful business owners must learn to find comfort in discomfort

When you ask successful people about the top skills every business owner should have, you’ll probably hear things like communication, listening, public speaking, or others. These are all important, but there’s one skill that I don’t hear mentioned as often and would argue is very underrated — finding comfort in discomfort. 

We see this concept in a few other scenarios in day-to-day life, like the health benefits of cold plunges or the adrenaline rush of skydiving or bungee jumping. In these situations, we must actively put ourselves in an uncomfortable situation in order to reap the benefits when that discomfort subsides. This is absolutely true in business, too, and I think not enough business owners are practicing it. 

Sticking with comfort is settling for mediocrity

It’s human nature to seek comfort in our relationships, activities, and even our business endeavors because we are naturally a risk-averse species. We want to be around people who make us feel safe and do things that don’t put us at risk for harm or uncertainty. But, this natural flight-over-fight instinct is why so many people struggle with starting a business and chasing their dreams. Settling for comfort is settling for mediocrity. 

Let’s call a spade a spade: starting a business comes with a lot of risks and a lot of uncertainty. You never know what the market response will be, if you’re making the right decisions for your business, or what curveballs may be thrown your way through the process. Those fears, while totally valid, are often enough to hold people back from following their dreams of starting a business or, even worse, not taking calculated risks within their business in order to grow. 

I’m certainly not arguing that business owners should suddenly start making risky decisions with no research or thought beforehand. What I am arguing, however, is those moments of discomfort are the greatest opportunities for growth — personally, professionally, and financially — and seeking those opportunities will make you and your business stronger.

Tips for learning how to lean into discomfort

Mastering this underrated business skill is usually a two-step process. First, you must stop allowing your comfort zone to dictate your goals and dreams. Then, you need to learn to actually seek out discomfort, because that’s where the real growth happens. 

Recognition and reflection are great ways to start on the path to harnessing the power of discomfort. As you go about your day, think to yourself what choices you’re actively making because they are familiar and comfortable and what other options you have in those moments that might be out of your comfort zone. 

For example, maybe you and your team have been marketing your product the same way for years, either because it works or because it’s simply “good enough.” But what if you put some dollars behind a new marketing channel or tactic instead? You don’t know what you don’t know, and seeking out something fresh and new may be what’s required to take you to the next level. Step one is recognizing those options and reflecting on why you’re not taking them. 

The second step in this process is often much harder because it requires you to take action on those alternatives that put you in a space of discomfort and uncertainty. This is where you must consciously make a decision that goes against human nature. Get lunch with someone new, test a new marketing strategy, roll out a new product, sign up for a business seminar or training course — whatever that looks like for you and your business. 

Best case scenario: growth. Worst case scenario: also growth. It’s a win-win. 

Why every successful business owner needs to strive to be uncomfortable

Striving for discomfort will make you a better business owner in a few different ways. On one hand, putting yourself outside your comfort zone will allow you to take risks you wouldn’t otherwise take, and those risky situations could end up being the most fruitful business opportunities. Or, on the other hand, if something doesn’t play out how you wanted it to, learning of that shortcoming should push you to additional opportunities or recognize a larger issue within your business. 

Learning to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations will also program your brain to approach future uncertainty in a calm and calculated way. Owning a business comes with inevitable storms, and if you’re able to master living in discomfort, you’ll be able to handle and conquer any storm that comes your way and come out better on the other side. 

Learning how to find comfort in discomfort is just scratching the surface of all the skills a successful business owner should have. If you’re ready to level up your business and be the best leader you can be, join me and my outstanding team at Cardone Ventures at our next event