I’ve been an entrepreneur for seven years. Midway through the fourth year, things were coming to a head. I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I wasn’t exercising, and I wasn’t keeping my mind clear with meditation.
In the middle of what felt like my most stressful month of my life, my most senior employee resigned. While I was complaining about the debacle to an entrepreneur friend, he called me out: “Get comfortable with the feeling that you have right now.”
Confused, I asked, “What feeling?” He replied, “Feeling uncomfortable. Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable.”
He stopped me in my tracks. He was right. We all need to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. We’re soft!
Here are 7 ways to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, according to one of the toughest and most resilient people I know, Green Beret Jason Van Camp.
The first step is always the most uncomfortable. All you have to do is show up. The battle is half won if you just show up. I get it. It’s uncomfortable to start something.
If possible, make the decision to start on your own rather than have someone make that decision for you. Once you start, you are going to want to quit immediately.
Whenever you start something, it sucks. You start a diet, it sucks. You start working out, it sucks.
Remind yourself that you made a decision. You are already committed and there is no going back.
2. Don’t quit.
You’ve decided to start. You’re not seeing results. It’s difficult. You want to quit. It’s OK. Just keep pushing forward.
You’re going to start thinking of a way out where you can quit and save face. Don’t do it. Don’t give yourself an out. Just don’t. Don’t give yourself any options. Either you succeed or you fail.
The point when you are just about to give up is the precise moment when the other guy gives up. At some point you are going to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” You better have an answer. What is driving you? Is it something someone said or did to you? Is it a competition?
Is it a challenge? Is it something that you have to prove to yourself? Is it just pride? Whatever it is, it had better be powerful.
3. Push yourself past your comfort zone.
At some point, you are going to say to yourself, “I’ve never done this before” or “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
We’ve all been there. Here’s a trick: Don’t say it out loud. Just pretend to be confident. Fake it till you make it. It’s scary, but I promise you this: When it’s over, you are going to say, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.” Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.
4. Embrace “the suck.”
The situation is bad–deal with it. And don’t just deal with it–open your arms and welcome it as you would an old friend. You know him well.
Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, he shows up. “The suck” is here to make you tougher. He’s a friend that arrived to make you better. Instead of complaining, celebrate the blessing that is the suck.
If you are embracing the suck by yourself, laugh at how ridiculous the situation is. You are building your mental and physical toughness points. If you are embracing the suck with others, you’ve just made new best friends for life.
Embracing the suck in a group is a powerful bonding experience.
5. Be around like-minded people.
Create a support network. Talk about your experiences. The worse the experience it is to you, the better the story it is to everyone else.
Soon, you will be seeking uncomfortable experiences to share with your friends. Be a good storyteller.
6. Recognize your improvements.
Track your progress. Revel in it. You are now a changed person. You know it because you see it. Build your confidence by going back to what before was uncomfortable and go through the experience again.
You are seeing your progress in real time. By nature, you are going to want to push the envelope to find out your boundaries. You will find yourself saying, “I wish it would suck more.” It’s our human nature to know what we are able to overcome.
7. Rinse. Repeat.
There’s an old Russian saying, povtorenie mat ucheniya, which means “repetition is the mother of learning.”
The more you perform the same activity, the more confident you become. Confidence is a tangible thing–it comes from practice and repetition.
This article was originally published in my column for INC.com