Discomfort. A word that means slight pain or make someone feel uneasy, anxious, or embarrassed. It is a word we do not use too often except in the occasional description of a medical ailment. I do realize that this definition in and of itself is very negative hence the reason we brace ourselves for something not so pleasant when the word is spoken to us or from us. And this negativity is also why this word is seldom used. But, what if this word has a positive meaning to it and we are all just overlooking it?
But for any of this to make sense, we must recognize if we are a leader or not. I like Brene Brown’s, a researcher of vulnerability for 10 years and doctorate of social work, definition of a leader in her book “Daring Greatly”: “A leader is anyone who holds her or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes. The term leader has nothing to do with position, status, or number of direct reports. It is any parent, teacher, community volunteer, or CEO who is willing to dare greatly and lead.” So in reality we are ALL leaders no matter what walk of life you are in. You just have to determine whether you want to step up to the plate and lead with the capacity and revelation you have been given.
Now that we understand we are all leaders, lets discuss how we grow in our leadership and this is where discomfort comes in. Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another.” How do we allow another person to sharpen us? By weighing in on how we are doing and being perceived in the way we are leading. Let me reiterate. You are ALL leading in one way or another whether you realize it or not and to keep growing in your leadership you have to let others speak into your life who you have some form of relationship with and who is further down the road than you are. It does us no good to only have someone who is in the same situation as we are, telling us what we want to hear and not giving us sound help that gets us further down the road than where we are. But for the majority of us this does not happen at all. If it does happen it ends up in a very unhealthy blowup that we work very hard at avoiding at all costs. Brene Brown says “The problem is straightforward. Without feedback there can be no transformative change. When we don’t talk to the people we’re leading about their strengths and their opportunities for growth, they begin to question their contributions and our commitment. Disengagement follows.”
Just because we are not comfortable with the hard conversations or we don’t know how to give and receive feedback in a way that inspires people and their methods doesn’t mean it isn’t fixable or we shouldn’t do it. It is creating a feedback culture that is a priority and a practice rather than something we aspire to do. Just as we are all leaders, we all want to grow and desire feedback on how we are doing. As leaders we just need to learn to give feedback in a way that inspires growth and engagement.
I do understand how tough that can be especially when we were raised in an environment that was quite the opposite of inspiration and encouragement. For those who were raised in a lacking environment or have a weakness of pessimism and realism, don’t give up on the hope for the ability to change. Jesus died on the cross for us to increase in intimacy with Him. And intimacy with Jesus increases our capacity to let go of what was never intended for us and increase in what He destined us to be and to have. At New Covenant Worship Center we have tools to help others with these obstacles such as Restoring the Foundations, discipleship, and NCU classes.
We all have to do the hard work of recognizing wrong belief systems. When we process that information through hurt it can distort the communication of the giver. This all brings discomfort but without discomfort would you really be able to grow and enter into what He has for you?
What we really need to do is normalize discomfort. Discomfort happens more often than we care to admit. Being in a state of learning, critical thinking, change for the better, and desiring to bring this to others means that discomfort is a normal way of life. Growing and increasing always takes you into the unknown which puts you into a state of feeling uncomfortable. But without the discomfort would you recognize you were heading anywhere?
Brene Brown, in her book “Daring Greatly”, gives an example of how to have a conversation to activate it into your place of leadership. “We believe growth and learning are uncomfortable so it’s going to happen here- you’re going to feel that way. We want you to know that it’s normal and it’s an expectation here. You’re not alone and we ask that you stay open and lean into it.”
For families this conversation may look a little different but essentially it is the same. As parents it is being open to having conversations with your spouse or children where you facilitate for feedback and because of love you allow them to weigh in on your life. You ask questions like: “What do you think I am doing great at? Where can I improve? What was the best thing about your day? What was the worst? Can I speak into you on how you could have possibly had a better time with that? If you did not have to worry about failing what would you do? Can we talk about what keeps you from heading in that direction?”
In our society today we have been told that discomfort and vulnerability are unacceptable feelings to have which in essence has stunted the growth of our culture and who God created us to be. Without these feelings how can we really grow into become a reflection of our Father to others. I encourage you to lean into the discomfort instead of running or disengaging from it and recognize the growth that God is bringing to your life. A better you in the Lord means embracing the discomfort of growth.
NCWC Transformation Center Director