The Psychology of Discomfort
I was speaking at a leadership conference this last week when I did something stupid. (That statement will not come as a huge surprise to those who know me.) I caught my finger in a door while standing next to a client. The pain was excruciating and I recoiled quickly.
Then I did something odd: I assured the client that I was just fine and that it wasn’t that big of a deal. My finger was screaming and I could feel a new jolt of pain with every pulse, but the situation simply did not allow for the outward expression of what I was experiencing. I went on with our conversation as if I did not have a care in the world.
Here’s what’s odd about this: I am basically a wimp. When I get sick, I curl up with blankets tight against my neck and whine a great deal. Had I smashed my finger at home, I would have quickly dropped to the floor and writhed in agony, suggesting to my wife that she should dial 911…and then stand by. Of course, such behavior would have been socially unacceptable at the conference, so I chose to suck it up.
Circumstances do not define choice…we do!
Did you get that last statement? I CHOSE to suck it up. To do so was, in fact, a choice. Wouldn’t that also mean the same choice would have been mine to make had I smashed my finger at home?
Discomfort is like that when you think about it. There are situations where boldness is in play because of sheer necessity (when your kid wanders off, or you are stranded on a freeway trying to flag someone down). But being in a far less perilous situation can cause you to clam up and search for another option. How we deal with discomfort is always a choice, regardless of circumstances.
Are you hurt, or are you injured?
Back in the day, I had a football coach, Augie Marra, who regularly asked this question whenever his players came off the field in pain: “Are you hurt, or are you injured?” Coach Marra didn’t have a great deal of sympathy for the hurt, only for the injured. He understood that the brain has a tendency to overplay pain, making situations seem worse than they really are.
Again, consider your discomfort and how you handle it. Do you “play through the pain” or do you let it shut you down?
Top performers feel discomfort just like everyone else, but they respond differently. They think strong. They recognize the power of the brain to overcome discomfort, and they do bold things despite how they feel.
Mastering the ability to choose how you respond to pain and discomfort will equip you to change the world.
About the Author:
Jeff Shore is a highly sought-after sales expert, speaker, author and executive coach whose innovative BE BOLD methodology teaches you how to change your mindset and change your world. His latest book, Be Bold and Win the Sale: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Boost Your Performance, is forthcoming from McGraw-Hill in January 2014. Learn more and follow Jeff on Twitter.
More About the Author:
For more than three decades, Jeff has guided executives and sales teams in large and small companies across the globe to embrace their discomforts and deliver BOLD sales results. In a crowded field of sales experts and training programs, Jeff Shore stands out with his research-based BE BOLD methodology. Combining his extensive front-line sales experience with the latest Cognitive Behavioral Therapy research, Jeff has created a highly effective, personalized way to reset sales paradigms and deliver industry-leading results. Jeff doesn’t just teach you how to sell, he shows you how to change your mindset and change your world.