I began my work as a consultant/coach almost six years ago. And in that time I have learned this: That the most important question to ask yourself before bringing a consultant or coach into your life or work has nothing to do with what you want, or their credentials or the project itself.
I didn’t understand that at first. I had a hard time understanding why some clients flourished, and some did not and it’s taken a lot of note taking, study and number crunching to finally get to the place where I can say this in confidence – your success, whether it is on your own or with a consultant or coach helping you along the way, is your willingness to be uncomfortable.
That’s right, uncomfortable.
You see, if you are making progress – and this is true whether you are building a startup, re-inventing an organization, building your own perfect life, or recrafting your marketing – if you are making progress, you will get to the place where you have to change something you are comfortable with. And that thing you don’t want to change, while it feels comfortable, is what is holding you back. It’s the same for all of us.
It sounds pretty obvious. Change means change. But when we want to change something that is comfortable, something happens in our head. We become resistant. And many of us decide to just keep that roadblock in place.
It happens in technology. I had a client once (who will remain un-named) who hired my company to redo their audio room. They spent over a hundred thousand dollars on a new digital audio board. The new board was crazy powerful. It could do things that twenty years ago we never thought about doing. It was amazing. But the client was afraid of all the change. They were comfortable with how their old board worked. And so slowly, we dumbed down the new one, until it was the effective equivalent of the old, less than ten thousand dollar board we replaced. As far as I know, they never grew into the board and are still living without the change they claimed to want.
It happens to people and companies too. They are all fired up to change, to become something new, to re-invent, but at some point, we hit that comfort zone and it’s like running head first into a stone wall. Often I continue for a while as a consultant or a coach after we hit the wall, but inevitably, their discomfort is the end. All the advice, information, history and facts in the world can’t budge them.
I, as the consultant/coach generally gets the blame.
Fortunately, the reverse happens too. When clients take a deep breath and plunge through their comfort zone, they generally find out that stone wall is really made out of tissue paper. They barrel right through and suddenly, begin to make real progress. They almost inevitably get to where they want.
And I, as the consultant/coach generally gets the credit. But the credit is not mine. The credit goes to them. They pushed past their uncomfortableness and that’s where success is found.
They are no smarter than my less than totally successful clients. No richer. No more resources. They are simply braver. More willing to live in that place of uncomfortableness for a short while to get to where they want to be.
Here’s what is most remarkable about this.
It works for clients, no matter what they are after.
- It works for Technology clients building a new broadcast facility.
- It works for businesses trying to grow, start or reinvigorate a company.
- It works for Non-profit organizations that are struggling.
- It works for all sorts of coaching clients, be they executives, entrepreneurs, artists or spiritual seekers.
And, once the time of uncomfortableness is past, they all tell me the same thing – that it was not nearly as bad as they anticipated. The dire things they worried about did not happen.
All that worry for nothing.
So do you want to make a change in your life and work? A serious, major change? Don’t fret over the how. At least not at first. Save yourself a lot of time and work and getting halfway there by asking yourself if you are willing to be uncomfortable for a while.
If you are, you are already 2/3 of the way there.
Be well. Travel wisely