Do you ever have moments where you feel so uncomfortable and yet your work requires you to stick through it? Maybe it’s stepping into a hard conversation where you’re not sure how the other person will respond. Or, perhaps you’re hiring or letting go of a team member for the first time, or even challenging your leader or client on their thinking or a decision they’ve made. You might even be delivering a presentation to a room full two hundred of your peers.
Mid-July I found myself on the business end of a video camera for the first time. “Relax and be yourself”, I was told by the Red Jacket West video production team. Hmm… relax. Be myself. But, stand on the tape, don’t move my feet, and talk to a camera through a teleprompter. I talk to people, not machines! So hard to be myself in such an artificial environment! Trying to explain to the video team my challenges to get further coaching, I remember saying: “I’m not sure what to do with my hands when I’m standing still. When I talk to a group, I walk around – my hands are attached to my feet.” Over the course of two days of filming, I received lots of coaching and was honest with the team about where I was struggling. Little by little, the work got easier and it never felt comfortable. I learned to practice new skills to stick with my work to create the great videos needed for my e-course. The discomfort and vulnerability was always there but I started learning strategies and pushing the distraction of discomfort aside to focus on my work. Had I not been willing to stretch outside my comfort zone, I’d have never stepped in front of the video camera and would have never authored an e-course.
Hard conversations are one of those things that never get comfortable and are a regular topic with my leadership clients. You can learn skills, like Crucial Conversations, for managing those tough conversations and develop confidence that you’ll be well prepared to manage whatever comes your way, yet your brain will always give you feedback that you feel uncomfortable. The trick to moving through it is practice, practice and more practice.
Practicing the uncomfortable allows us to get comfortable being uncomfortable and move through it. Where do you need to practice?