By Jeff Shore
Dangers in Discomfort

“Choices are the hinges of destiny.”
Pythagoras

Think back to your driver education classes. You learned that when two vehicles approach a four-way intersection and both come to a stop at exactly the same time, the car on the right has the right-of-way. Or is it the car on the left? No matter. In the absence of certainty as to the traffic rule we instead take part in what I call the “Intersection Dance”.

It works like this: You and your ‘dance partner’ simultaneously motion each other to go ahead, and you both chuckle at the awkwardness. Then you each motion simultaneously a second time, again laughing at the pleasant stalemate. Deep down you are thinking to yourself, “You’re on the right, idiot – you have the right-of-way!”, but you smile just the same.

Finally, you decide that the standoff can’t last forever so you start to inch forward…. you know where this is going, don’t you? You both start to inch forward and you both come to a quick stop. Eventually one of you musters enough courage and you just hit the gas, hoping the other will stop.

This is the process that we have come to know as yielding. When driving, that term has come to mean safe, polite and respectful, and in some cases it is.

But allow me to offer another perspective on yielding. You are at an evening business function and you see a very important person in the room, someone whom you have always wanted to meet and who could have a potentially big impact on your career. You want to approach this person and introduce yourself, perhaps hand a business card and request a five-minute conversation.

You notice that there are a number of people hovering around this VIP and you hold back. You decide that the time is not right, and that this person is too busy talking to your peers. You wait for another day. This too is yielding.

Here’s the problem: if we yield at every discomfort that life throws our way, we end up with lifelong issues. While yielding can keep us alive (as when driving through an uncontrolled intersection), it can also kill our productivity, our creativity, and our relationships.

Yielding prevents us from acting when action is necessary. It deters us from making bold decisions and it dramatically, even tragically, limits our potential.

Unfortunately, the yielding tendency is so normal that we typically don’t even think about it. We all have our yielding habits, and like other self-destructive habits they take on a mind of their own.

At the risk of overstating things, we have a serious problem on our hands, my friends. Yielding is just plain dangerous, and left unchecked it cripples us on so many levels.

BAD NEWS, GOOD NEWS

I contend that most people choose to flat out ignore the discomforts the lead us to a yielding response. I do not use the word “choose” lightly. Yielding is, in fact, a choice – a conscious action of the will.

  • You choose to avoid making that phone call. Let’s face it – your head won’t explode, and the world won’t stop spinning if you actually make the call. You actively choose not to – at least be honest about it.
  • You choose to procrastinate. Legitimately not having the time for a task is not how we define procrastination (though it might apply to over-commitment!). Not acting on that which is actionable is a moment-by-moment choice.
  • You choose to give in on a customer request that goes against company policy. You might convince yourself that it is actually outstanding customer service…it’s still yielding.

Yielding is a choice – a conscious act of the will.

MOMENT OF DISCOMFORT – MOMENT OF DECISION

For every discomfort there is a decision – you cannot separate the two. The decision is all about how you will handle the discomfort. Will you face it head on, or will you chase down the easy path?

These decisions are a very natural part of our day and our life. We don’t even think about them – they just happen, and often habitually in our subconscious. We face a discomfort, we decide what to do, and we move on.

My garage makes for a good case study here. No one will ever accuse me of coining the phrase, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” For me, setting it on the workbench is good enough. Oh, I know it’s not much of an effort to actually open the tool chest and place the electrical tape where it belongs, but I’m kind of in a hurry and besides, I can do that the next time I come back out.

Of course, the next time I come out I see that the tape is on the counter, so what’s the big deal if I put the tape measure there as well? Before you know it, I can’t find a thing. Eventually I clean the garage out of shear frustration.

That might sound like a trivial example, but it speaks of the progression that we all deal with in so many areas of our lives. A small discomfort leads to a small decision. Make the wrong choice and the yielding virus finds a foothold.

In his book The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck writes, “….it is necessary that the higher centers of our brain (judgment) be able to regulate and modulate the lower centers (emotion).” (p. 65) Our rational judgment must supersede our emotional reactions, otherwise we will forever be victimized by those emotion-based instincts.

What decisions are you making that are actually harmful to your sales success? Where in your sales presentation are you giving in to your own comfort addiction? What is the that little voice in your head telling you?

Be bold, my friends. Top sales performers face discomfort just like everyone else. The difference lies in how they respond. They don’t run from discomfort – they embrace it.

Be bold…and you can change the world.