Discomfort as an Indicator for Effective Growth

There's fewer things scarier than stepping onto little yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.  I was full of a tremendous amount of fear, regret, and sorrow.  

Fast forward 13 weeks later and I was a different person.  I was made mentally and physically tough unlike I had ever thought possible.  I felt grateful to be there.  

Here's the thing, growth and change like that, the kind that we admire, we tend to run from.  When was the last time we were required to perform under fear, exhaustion, deprivation, and hunger?  More appropriately, when was the last time we were in over our heads?  Were we forced to succeed?  

In weightlifting, there's an advanced lifting tactic where the lifter completes a set that is beyond their capabilities.  The spotter helps just enough to complete the set while the lifter does the majority of the work.  This is great to push the lifter just past the edge of their capabilities to foster change, and growth.  It's called forced repetitions, or forced reps.  The body and the mind of the lifter scream "STOP STOP STOP!" but the lifter is required and forced to finish.  It's extremely uncomfortable. 

Marine Corps boot camp is just like that.  Only there's a catch: It's 13 weeks of constant forced reps in a wide set of skills and traits that span the USMC culture.  The end result is a warrior that is smart, tough, adaptable, and ready to face challenges both on and off the battlefield.  

How To Get Insane Growth:

1. Find scary. If you're asked to head up a new project or task that seems out of your league, you're on the right track.  Fear of failure?  Good.  Fear of letting others down?  Good.  Let it fuel your growth.  The more afraid of it you are, the better.  Public speaking continues to be the number one fear of most adults.  Start there.

2. Sink or swim.  Quitting something can be smart, but having an easy out when things are scary can invite a quick end to an otherwise successful endeavor.  A good compromise is having a natural time limit.  If one doesn't exist, commit to a period of time.  I prefer 8-12 weeks for smaller experiments.  12 full months for practices that I know will help me.  (for instance, my vlog)

3.  Go together.  Start a growth crew.  Ask a friend or two if they struggle with anything in their daily lives.  Chances are they will tell you what's been weighing them down.  Everybody wants to grow, they just might not know it until you ask the right question.  Meet with them at least once a week.  Preferably in person.  I'll dive into this "crew" business at a later date.  Right now, focus on gathering like minded friends that want the same growth you do.  If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.  

4.  Read everything.  Magazines, comics, fiction, history, business, everything.  It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.  This is a must.  

5.  Get combat.  Take up some sort of individual combat sport.  You can go as easy or as hard as you'd like, but do something that matches your physical and mental self against another human being.  I suggest Tai Chi if you're a beginner and don't want to get hit, pinned, thrown, choked, or submitted.  Jiu Jitsu is another great form of personal combat that is great for beginners everywhere.  With the rising popularity, it should not be hard to find a Jiu Jitsu school near you.  

6.  Speak in public.  Pointing back to number one: this is the least actual and highest impact here.  If you practice public speaking 5 minutes a week you will improve rapidly and you'll notice a positive change within yourself if you are not already accustomed to public speaking.  Find a way to get in front of people and talk.  It's that simple.    

We have become too comfortable.