“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
Humans are wired to resist change. We possess a natural inclination to stick with the status quo, to resist the unknown, and to stay comfortable. It’s tied to our ancestral drive to survive. We have developed this drive for comfort and, as a society, we became pretty good at being comfortable. If you’re uncomfortable with discomfort, you turn away from uncertainty and change. The current pandemic has left us unable to turn away from this uncertainty and change. How can we embrace this? How can we be comfortable with being uncomfortable? Let’s take a look at this for this week’s “Inside Look at Building Towards Wealth”.
To live fully, you must be willing to step into the unknown, now more than ever. You must be willing to challenge yourself to grow and change. Change feels uncomfortable for most of us. Your fear, anxiety, and discomfort are natural, and these are all human reactions to life. We should accept those feelings, it’s part of being human. Are those feelings facts or are they part of the story we are telling ourselves about what is going on?
Has there been a more challenging time in the last 4 decades than right now in our society? Not in my memory. If we look back further, we can see wars, depressions, and all manners of challenging times but, during my 45 years, this seems to be the most challenging.
Never have we seen so much uncertainty throughout the world. Mental health issues are on the rise as talked about here, there is a virus that we have no vaccine for, unemployment claims are at record highs, and business owners are trying to figure out how to keep their doors open and their employees are taken care of all while dealing with tremendous economic obstacles.
All of this can seem overwhelming. However, we have dealt with all of this before, it is just so far in the past we have forgotten. The Spanish Flu Pandemic killed millions more worldwide and cities were shut down then as well. I would say that the world is a significantly better place than in 1918.
We saw record levels of unemployment during the Great Depression, yet, now we have much better financial and economic resources to deal with. Much swifter reactions, based on history and experience, from the Fed and Treasury. Even lacking those resources, we recovered from that time in our history as well.
We have developed vaccines for just about every major virus known to man. Even though most of them have been eliminated for the entirety of our lives, we forget that measles, polio, and smallpox once ravaged our society. Our world has never been so focused or had so many great minds working together on creating a solution. Between a vaccine, treatments developed from the many clinical trials going on, and contact tracing, I fully expect our society to overcome this virus. It will take some time, and we will all be a little more uncomfortable during it, but we will overcome this situation.
If we can see the facts as they are, then we can conclude that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. How do we get comfortable with being uncomfortable in the interim?
- Accept that we are human- Don’t run away from those feelings of discomfort or anxiety. It is a natural human reaction. It’s normal to feel those.
- Ask yourself, “is it true?”- Is what you are telling yourself a fact or is it the story you are telling yourself about the situation?
- Reframe your discomfort- See it as a source of growth. Get curious in the face of the unknown.
The greatest success stories in business and sports all have stories about being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I quoted Muhammad Ali at the beginning and that comes from a Newsweek story where they asked about his training regimen. He responded ”I hated every minute of it. But I said to myself ‘Suffer now, and live the rest of your life like a champion'”. Here is an article that goes into depth about his life and why he said this.
Mozart needed at least ten years before he produced something that became popular.
Edison failed 1000 times at creating the lightbulb before, perhaps, his greatest success.
They all lived in the world of the uncomfortable. It would have been easy to give into the story that they would never succeed.
Everyone knows you can’t get in shape without some sort of training. You run, bike, or lift weights to grow aerobic capacity and muscle. The same is true for mental toughness and resilience. There is no better time to improve than during times of hardship.
We are all there. We are all trying to entertain and educate kids at home without school or daycare, trying to juggle multiple people working from home, and we are all losing track of what day it is.
I encourage you to take joy in the amount of time you have with your children. Reconsider that which is important to you moving forward. Do not let this time move in a different direction or let it double down on your efforts to reach the goals you have set in place. It will not be easy, but the best things in life never are.
I have confidence in all of us that we will come out of this a stronger society. We can do the work now, to position ourselves to live life like champions! We just have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
I hope this was helpful for everyone.