How do you prefer your discomfort?

Only the masochists among us are truly into discomfort, but all of us experience it sooner or later.

When it comes to doing those important-but-uncomfortable activities that lurk in Quadrant II, here’s a question worth asking:

Do you prefer your discomfort short and intense or lengthy and mild?

Do you string out your discomfort?Here’s an example you can probably relate to. I was whining to my colleague Nancy Tierney, founder of Firecracker Communications, about the springtime cold I’d had for several days. She immediately suggested that I try her favorite get-rid-of-it-quick remedy: mash a clove of garlic in a garlic press, mix it with an ounce of water, and chug it down.

Ack!! Gag!! Heave!!

As you might guess, I chickened out and steered clear of the garlic. While I avoided the gag reaction, I did have to endure the head cold for another week.

Do you want to be successful or comfortable?

How often in business do you choose—either intentionally or by default—to deal with mild discomfort for an extended period of time, rather than swallow all the discomfort at once and just be done with the damn thing?

Far too frequently, entrepreneurs will yield to the temptation to “deal with it later” when it comes to something that pushes them outside their comfort zones. Unfortunately, this deny-and-delay tactic never eliminates discomfort. The only thing delaying and denying accomplishes is to change the discomfort of doing into the discomfort of ignoring (and feeling cowardly, to boot). And on top of that, when you finally take your head out of the sand you’d buried it in, you still have the original task to deal with.

Ack!! Gag!! Heave!!

I know that the next time I’m getting a cold, I’m going to remember the pain of having a sore, red nose for two weeks, and I’m going to use that memory to dig up enough courage to go for the garlic.
Is it time for you to start considering the value of the intense-but-quickly-over approach to dealing with discomfort? Or, if you’re already doing this, can you share some success stories with the rest of us? We’ll all appreciate the outcomes once we’ve learned to spend less time dreading a task and more time enjoying the results of getting it done.

(Thanks to liz west for posting her image of the garlic bulb in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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2 Responses to How do you prefer your discomfort?

  1. Interesting way to think of it. Reminds me of labor! When I kept repeating the mantra – one day = one new life… SO happy I made it through that intensity – it’s taught me sooo much!

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