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The Discomfort Zone (#27)

The Confident Leader

Brad Bevill, a dog trainer, helped us understand how dogs learn by boldly stating, “they’re not going to learn anything in the comfort zone.” Therefore, our job is to push our little pandemic puppy, Charlie, beyond his zone of comfort for his own benefit.

A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is not what it is built for.
— Albert Einstein

This Week’s Edition

COMFORT ZONE: The so-called comfort zone robs leaders of their true potential.  Let’s break the cycle.

Clarify Your Thinking

Last week, a group of leaders asked me to help them start their year off well.  Little did they know I was going to make them uncomfortable. To start a new thing, we have to leave our comfort zone which makes us uncertain and unsure.


When my daughter was young, she wanted to play basketball. We went outside to dribble for the first time. As she took the ball and bounced it once, it hit her shoe and flew across the driveway. She began to cry, because she expected to be as good at dribbling as her older brother who had been playing for years. 


When we start something new we begin with enthusiasm mixed with trepidation. We leave the comfort zone, only to experience an early mistake or failure. That experience gives us pause, and we begin to think we might not be able to do it.  We doubt our abilities.


Doubt and lack of skill can kill a fledgling effort, because our instinctual response is to snap back to the comfort zone, a place where we believe we do everything well and have no doubt about it. 


The problem is that the comfort zone is not the warm and cozy environment we all think it is.  It is wrought with frustration related to not achieving the next level. In the Discomfort Zone, even though a leader experiences frustration, it is a result of failed attempts at new endeavors, a sign of early progress toward the desired goal.


If a leader can withstand the Discomfort Zone, they will be rewarded by arriving at the Confidence Zone with improved skill, decreased doubt and more complete confidence.


post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

If eradicating leadership doubt requires staying in the Discomfort Zone, how does a leader resist the urge to fall back into what seems comfortable when things don’t initially work out according to expectations?


Three steps:

1.   EXPERT: Enroll an expert to teach you how to do it the right way.

2.   TIME: Establish a timeframe sufficient to master the new skill.

3.   SUPPORT: Ask an accountability partner to support you. 

For example, if I want to write a book that I have been attempting to author for years, I have to do something different. I need someone who knows how to do it. I can learn from the expert and create the plan to make it happen over a proper timeline. Because it might be hard and I might not be great at it initially, I need someone to support me on a weekly basis so I can manage my frustration and resist the urge to abandon the effort.


Welcome to the Discomfort Zone! Stay just long enough to make it to the Confidence Zone where your greatest professional vision is realized.

Boost Your Performance

Each of the leaders on the zoom call this week ended up committing to themselves the following: “I’m no longer going to delay. I’m venturing forth to pursue my vision by finding an expert, committing the time and asking a partner to support me.” I look forward to seeing their progress as I help them stay in the Discomfort Zone.

What’s Your Opinion?

Share with me what you are choosing relative to leaving what is comfortable and venturing forth to do something that has you uncomfortable.

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

robin pou, chief advisor and strategist

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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