Don’t Be Afraid To Make Things Uncomfortable

Hey, welcome to the show. So happy you're tuning into a Dose of Leadership. No interview today, another solo episode. I appreciate the feedback, you've asked me to do more solo episodes. So that's what I'm going to try to do, I've committed to in 2020. So today I want to talk about not being afraid of making things a little uncomfortable. And what I mean by that, it seems like we go to great lengths as leaders to create this pleasant working environment all the time. And we do that because we assume, and it seems to on the surface make sense, that we want happy, comfortable, productive employees. And that by creating this very pleasant working environment that we're going to get a higher effective, more productive employee. And so we go to great lengths making sure that no one is stressed out.

We go to great lengths in our own selves to make sure that we're coming across as almost like a parent-type figure, that we're one big family. We're very conscious about making sure to tip toe around someone who's being sensitive at the time. And we go to great lengths of maybe bringing a dog to work, or creating these rec rooms where we've got pool tables, foosball tables, ping pong tables, and we have these tournaments. Again, all with the assumption, all with good intentions, thinking that's going to produce more productivity. And I'm here to tell you that that isn't the case.

I think that's a myth, I think there's some great value, and to make things a little uncomfortable, and we're going to dive into that in this episode. Before I do, I want to talk to you about an offer, a new offer that I have coming up with Dose of Leadership. I tried this early on, maybe about six years ago, and I think it was just too early. I don't think the audience was big enough, and I just don't think it was ready. Now it feels ready to me. And I'm going to kind of keep this on the down-low, meaning I'm not going to be sending out ads. I'm not creating a landing page.

I'm going to speak to you directly because the people that I want to reach out to me are the ones who are fans of the show, who really want to do something with their lives and become the best leaders that they can possibly become, and I'm going to relaunch or try to effectively launch Dose of Leadership University. It's always been one of my longterm goals with this show and with this brand, to create an economical solution that will help you become a more intentional and effective leader. I feel that after seven years of interviewing 400 plus impactful leaders from varying backgrounds, I feel like I've gained a PhD's worth of leadership knowledge. I really do.

I think, you couple that with my 20 plus years experience as a professional aviator, a military officer and a corporate executive, I feel like this Dose of Leadership University, this community that we're going to create will be a value packed community like no other. So if you become part of this community, and that's what I'm asking you to do, I'm looking for an initial cadre of 30 people, 30 people that will pay one low lifetime access fee, eventually I'm going to be charging a monthly fee once this community grows. But in the beginning, I'm looking for initial cadre of 30 with one low fee, and you will never pay anything for the rest of your life, and if you become part of this community, here's a sampling of what you'll have access to.

First and foremost, you're going to have lifetime access to my Legacy Leader Blueprint Course. 20 high impact videos that will give you the foundation to become a true leader of influence. I've used this over the last four years on, we're coming up on 30 groups in multiple organizations where I've taken over 400 people through that course, laying the foundations of leadership with varying degrees of leadership experience. You can be a beginner or you can be someone with a lot of experience. There's something to learn from that course. So you're going to have access to that, which by the way, I'm going to be rebranding here in late 2020 with all new updates, all new videos, and it'll continue to grow. So it is a living breathing course, it's not static.

The other thing you'll get is a private forum for members only, where we can authentically discuss our leadership journeys and all the challenges that come with intentional growth. The other thing I want to do, because of technology today and using Zoom, which I record my interviews on, but we'll also use Zoom to do monthly live video calls with me and other members of the group. So this will be the ultimate Mastermind, a monthly group where you can receive coaching advice and support, not only from me but from our peers, from other leaders in the group, just like you.

Because of the show and how long I've been doing it, I've created a network I didn't even think was possible. So the other thing I'm going to offer are special live sessions with previous and future guests of the Dose of Leadership Podcast. I've done this with some of my Masterminds and it's just been phenomenal. I've talked to many of my guests and they, many will be willing to do this, so this is a rare, unique opportunity where you can speak directly with some of the top thought leaders, CEOs and entrepreneurs around, people that have been on this show and that will be on this show. And then lastly, I'd like to eventually create access to a specially yearly meetup where we can continue to network and deepen the relationships that will be formed within this group.

You cannot go through this leadership journey alone. Experts have shown that time and time again that you have to find and surround yourself with people who are going to push you, and help you, and challenge you and take you to the next level. That is the purpose of this group. Again, eventually this group, I'm going to charge a monthly fee, but I'm looking for an initial cadre of about 30 people who will pay just one small access fee and you'll be locked in for life. No additional monthly yearly charges ever. So, if it sounds like something you want to be part of, something you want to help grow yourself, send me a personal message and we can discuss.

Again, there's nowhere on the website you can go to see this. I want you to take the time and see who's intentional about sending me an email at Richard@doseofleadership.com, or go to the contact page on Dose of Leadership and fill out the contact form. It'll come to my email so it's the same thing, but Richard@doseofleadership.com, or the contact form, and put in the subject line Dose of Leadership University. And I look forward to hearing from you. All right.

All right, thank you for that little plug. I appreciate that. Let's get on with the bulk of the conversation of the lesson today, and it is about not being afraid of making things a little uncomfortable. Again, I said that we go to great lengths, and I'm guilty of this, and particularly when I got out of the Marine Corps and I got in the corporate working environment, I thought it should be separate. And I assume that if I spent a lot of time on making this place the most pleasant it can be working, that my people are going to be happy, comfortable and productive, and I found that's not necessarily the case.

I'm saying that we should be a little more intentional and judicious about making things a little uncomfortable, not for the sake of being a jerk, not for producing undue stress. There needs to be some intentionality and purpose behind this active making things a little uncomfortable and it has to come from a place of love. So let's just make sure we get that out on the front, understood, out at the get-go, because I can already see some of the feedback I'm going to get. I know when I talk about this in person, a lot of people are uncomfortable with this. They disagree with it, but hear me out, and the reason why I think this is so beneficial.

If you look back, and I think back to, you've heard me talk about my Marine Corps career, ad nauseam, I'm sure, but it was so instrumental. It was really one of the reasons why I started this show, is because when I worked in the corporate arena and I saw the stark differences between the culture of what it was like to work in corporate America and what it was like in the Marine Corps. And one of the things I really did appreciate and I look back at my career, and going through flight school and learning how to be an aviator, learning how to be an officer in the Marine Corps, you would not say that that was a comfortable experience.

In fact, it was very arduous and very stressful to go through that whole process, particularly going through flight school. There was always this pressure to perform. There was always this ability to make sure I did it in a safe manner, and aviation can be inherently dangerous if you're stupid and you're not paying attention. And the same goes for the rest of the Marine Corps and the combat side. It is not a comfortable proposition.

You always got to prepare for the next rank. You got to prepare. Physically, I had to be in top shape. I couldn't gain weight. I had to look good in a uniform. I couldn't rest on my past performance. There was always that stress of you're only as good as your last landing. You're always preparing for the worst. You're always training. You're always in this mindset. And so, you would expect in that kind of stressful, uncomfortable environment, you would think that no one would want to do it. And they would look back at that with, "Oh my God, thank God that's over. And now I can live the cushy life, and everything can be comfortable and smooth."

But if you look back at the morale level of the Marines, and you've heard me talk about it, and I get around my friends, I look back at that with such fondness. And you could argue that the Marines have one of the highest morale of any branch of the services and you would come to the collusion that, well, either everybody's crazy, and they're sadistic, and they like that torture, or there's something else. And it's obviously, there's something else. And it's because, I think, comfortableness or making things as smooth as possible does not inspire or ignite the mind.

Yeah, I like to relax, and veg out and not think sometimes, just like everybody else, but I think overall if you're looking at your life in total, I don't think that's how we're wired. I really don't think we're wired that way as human beings. I really do believe that if you're going to lead a significant life, that there must be some sort of struggle to conquer or overcome. And that makes sense when you hear that, right? Again, no one can describe that time I had in the Marine Corps and learning how to be an aviator as comfortable. In fact, it was the kiss of death, particularly aviation, it still is now, to get in the comfort zone. I can't afford to get in the comfort zone. I always have to be pushing myself and get in the growth zone. Maybe you've heard me talk about this on the show.

I know that's a huge part of my training when I'm coaching individuals that, when you're on a leadership journey, it is always constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and into the growth zone, because the growth zone and the comfort zone cannot exist in the same plane. They cannot coincide with each other. The lazy side of us wants the comfort zone. It makes sense because it's comfortable. And being uncomfortable is uncomfortable. And you have to intentionally push yourself outside of it. But when you conquer that, when you overcome the struggle, you look back on that with fondness, because it meant something to you. And that's what I'm talking about here.

If you're a leader in an organization and you're accountable for people, take that energy and effort a way of trying to make this as stress free as possible, and don't be afraid to make things a little tense, because struggle actually produces significance. And the reason why I say this is so important is because I think businesses, particularly in a civilian side, the corporate side, we lose the edge. And I know this, even from my most recent coaching contract, consulting contract with a company, and particularly when I got in the middle and below, and particularly new employees, and we start talking about the mindset of business.

Generally, most businesses, most employees in any organization do not understand that business is a fight for survival, that it is life and death. And particularly, when they're young and they're middle and below, it's almost like... And I think I was guilty of this, that they just exist. The corporation is going to exist. They're always going to exist. The job is an opportunity. It's almost like I'm entitled, like it's a right. And I think a big part of the challenge of business is always battling mediocrity. And the more that we try to make things comfortable for people, and we don't set the mindset that businesses a fight for survival and that lives are at stake here, then we'll be seduced with this idea of trying to keep everybody in the comfort zone. And what happens when you get everybody a mindset, a culture of comfort, then you start breeding mediocrity and stagnation. And eventually the competition is going to come up and bite you, and you're going to be in a world of hurt.

We see this time and time again in organizations. You cannot get complacent. And I think a lot of this goes to the root, or we can at least fight this if we stop spending a ridiculous amount of time, energy and resources trying to completely de-stress our organization. I get it. We're taught stress is bad, and stress over long time is not sustainable. I understand that. But we're kidding ourselves thinking that business is not chaotic. It is extremely chaotic. Life is chaotic.

Unexpected things always happen, and that's why we have leadership. That's the price of leadership. Fear and uncertainty never, never goes away. It will always be with us. That gives you job security. If you're willing to embrace that mindset and if you're willing to be the composed force within that chaos, you can write your own ticket. And that's what's needed. Not writing your own ticket, but that's what's needed in the organization, that composed, confident, consistent, and courageous force within the chaos. That's why we study leadership. That's why we become intentional about it.

Please don't misunderstand me when I say this. This is not about treating your employees like combat ready Marines. It's not about stressing them out for stresses sake. This has nothing to do with your ego or your own sadistic internal perversions. It's about acting in love. Remember, leadership is love. It's coming from a place, I am sacrificing so that others may prosper. So I'm not suggesting you do this for the sake of being a jerk and letting people think you're in a-hole 24/7. It's not about living a persona. It's about authentically, and refraining and restraining yourself, and getting comfortable yourself, with being a little uncomfortable. As long as their best interests are kept at heart.

This is critical. Listen closely. As long as their best interests are kept at heart, there must be a defined purpose towards the stress. That's the intentional part that you as a leader are going to get paid the big bucks for. So what does that mean? Well, it could mean withholding guidance when you normally feel like you've got to spend the next hour teaching and mentoring this person. Maybe at that time, silence is what's needed. Maybe when your top sales guy misses the mark, doesn't meet the quota. Instead of going a deep dive and trying to figure out what happened, maybe you just bring him or her into the room and you say, "This is unacceptable." And if you don't straighten this out, we might need to rethink your position. And that's it.

And I know you're going to be sitting there wanting to pat him on the back, and pump them up and say, "It's okay." Maybe it's time for a little bit of tough love. Let them figure out. Because the true leaders understand that, that silence or letting them feel a little, let's be honest, a little embarrassed they let us down, let them soak it in. Let them marinate in that feeling and see what comes out on the other side. If they're worth their weight in gold, they're going to transform. They're going to transform themselves. Because remember, leadership isn't about you coming up and sprinkling some magic dust of inspiration and changing them. They already have what's inside of them, particularly your high performers, so it's your job to make sure that they extract it.

It's your job to not mess up and comfort them during their transformation. Even though I know you're going to want to so bad, you're going to want to so bad, but hold back. Let them reach down. Let them find their own intuition, their own gut, their own grit, and help them develop using their own resources without much help or encouragement from you. And then, eventually, when you see them transform and they no longer need that help, they no longer need that encouragement. They've become an independent resource and more useful to you and your organization. And it's then, at that point you can give the praise, you can give the wink, the nod, the good job. And won't it mean that much more? They'll never forget that.

Think about all of those great family members, teachers, coaches that meant something to you in your life. Didn't they do that? I remember doing some, getting some coaching from my HR manager when I was getting ready to do annual reviews. And she was coaching me, and she says, "Now, make sure when you deliver the bad news, you got to give them the sandwich theory. Start off with a compliment, then give them the bad news, and then give them a compliment on the other side. Sandwich it in so they don't leave dejected."

I hate that. I've tried that a couple of times and I just think it's wishy-washy. My father never did that. My coaches that I respect and look back to with admiration never did that. They spoke to me frankly, honestly, and sometimes they just treated me with silence. The disappointed father's speech is eminently more powerful than a deep dive on trying to figure out what went wrong.

So what I'm saying is, it comes down to expectations. The mindset. Your job as a leader is to set those expectations, to say, "Look, this is a life and death proposition. These are lives at stake." Fine, you want to spend time and resources on a foosball table or a ping pong table or bring your pet to work. I'm not saying it's bad to do those things necessarily, but if you think you're doing those things for the sole purpose of producing a more effective and productive environment, you're spinning your wheels.

Great leaders understand that it's occasionally okay to make things uncomfortable. In fact, it's a requirement. It's occasionally okay to make things uncomfortable so that not only will they increase their professional capacity, months, years, way down the road, they're going to be thankful for it. And that's what it means to create a legacy. Let me know what you think. If you disagree with me, let me know. If you find some value in this, please let me know. Send a comment to Richard@doseofleadership.com. And hey, my call to action for you in addition to what you learned in this episode is find a friend, find a family member, find a coworker and share this show with them.

Your ability to share this show and word of mouth, grows the show faster than anything else. And I would appreciate it if you got some value out of the show, to share it with somebody, let them know. And also, if you have the time, I don't know, Apple doesn't make it that easy, or Stitcher either, but whatever podcast application you're listening to this on, subscribe, rate and review first and foremost, and then write a review. It does so much to keep the visibility of this show front and center, and because of your efforts and your support, it's allowed me to stay front and center on Apple podcast. And this show continues to grow month, after month, after month.

And I'm so thankful and grateful, because I do feel like this is what I was meant to do, and because of your support, I'm allowed to do it. And so, if you can continue to do anything, share the show with someone and rate and review. I'd truly appreciate it. All right, thanks so much for taking the time to listen this episode today, and I look forward to talking to you next time. In the meantime, make it a great one. See ya.

+ Click to view entire transcript
- Click to collapse

I wouldn’t describe my career as a professional aviator and Marine Corps Officer as a “comfortable” one.

In fact, it was quite the opposite; the experience was at times arduous, challenging, & both physically & mentally challenging.

Yet, I look back at my experience with tremendous fondness and pride.  I believe the reason why is because there must be some sort of struggle to conquer or overcome.

Struggle produces significance.

Let’s face it, business is a fight for survival…so why do we then insist on spending a tremendous amount of resources on to completely de-stress our organizations?

Why do we feel like we need to make our employees feel like we are “one big family”?

This episode is about busting through these fallacies and showing you that effective leaders occasionally make things “uncomfortable” so as to increase their professional capacity. 

Don’t misunderstand, this is not about treating our teams and employees like combat Marines.

But I am suggesting that we shouldn’t be afraid to make things a little uncomfortable now & then…as long as we have their best interests at heart.

This isn’t about intimidation and undue stress. There must be a defined purpose towards the stress.

Our obligation is to push our people and organizations into the “Growth Zone”; which means they will be stepping out of the “Comfort Zone”.

Leave a Reply