To develop an open mindset in business, and a willingness to embrace change in your company, we will have more tangible results if we become comfortable with being uncomfortable. We all have choices in how to perceive and react to things around us. As leaders, we should choose to embrace discomfort, bumps in the road, and situations that are not perfect in our eyes. To create an inclusive workplace, we must accept and embrace all of our differences.
We can go into a meeting and see that someone’s clothing, hair, language, or ideas are different from our own and become irritated or intimidated. However, this can cause us to lose sight of the bigger ideals and not welcome new, innovative, and enriching visions. It also hinders a workplace from being inclusive and providing others with a sense of belonging. Having a more inclusive and accepting workplace means decisions get made 2x quicker, in half the amount of meetings, because others feel they are in a safe space to speak up.
As far as feeling uncomfortable in everyday relationships, it is rare to have a perfect dynamic when interacting with other people, personalities, and cultures. Even within families, there can be moments of opinionated discomfort. How many scripts have been written about Thanksgiving dinners with the clash of personalities and awkward new meetings? If we can sit back, smile, and expect things not quite go as planned, we can learn so much and certainly become more enlightened. Getting uncomfortable in a positive way requires removing blinders and rewriting old stories.
Does anyone really want to look inside themselves and search for ingrained biases, ideas, and perceptions? That may cause too much discomfort. It may involve admitting fault, changing something about ourselves, or digging into old norms and notions that have been left dormant for the sole reason that they are too uncomfortable to churn up.
Does anyone have time to really listen to someone else? Can we put ourselves, our egos, and our sense of entitlement aside for a while to really hear another person’s words, feelings, or ideas? Those of us willing to experience that discomfort will grow, learn, and benefit immensely from our new insights.
It may not be comfortable to get up at 5 AM to exercise, but if our minds can envision the rewards, the physical results will keep us motivated. It may be uncomfortable admitting we made a mistake or avoided healthy discussions about race/gender biases or anything else culture related. It may be uncomfortable to look someone directly in the eye, to attempt to walk in their shoes or to embrace their journey if it is different from ours.
In business, if this kind of discomfort is not accepted and practiced, the values and goals of a company will become stagnant. By becoming comfortable with differences, new viewpoints, and altered lines of sight, boundaries will open up and innovation will flourish.