Stop Tolerating Life, Start Thriving
by Alex Charfen
If you don't have a system for offloading where you're uncomfortable…chances are you are tolerating too much. This belief that we should tolerate being uncomfortable has a long deep-rooted history of entrepreneurial existence. In fact, we often hear things like, “You should get comfortable being uncomfortable.” Or “Fake it until you make it. Never let them see you sweat.” This school of thought says that we should keep all of the things inside that are bothering us, but the fact is, strategies like this create more than denial. Fake it until you make it equates to lie and deny. That's not how it works for an entrepreneur to create momentum, move forward, and get the protection and support we need to go and create our greatest contribution.
One of the most significant leaders in American corporate history, one of the greatest entrepreneurs to ever run a company was Lee Iacocca. What he did at Ford, and then subsequently did at Chrysler was amazing. At Ford, the invention, the creation, the release of the Mustang. Then at Chrysler the creation of an entirely new category of car, the minivan in a company that was literally imploding on itself. Iacocca's leadership was terrific, and he had a statement, a phrase that he used that is often misinterpreted. He was known for saying, “The speed of the boss is the speed of the team.” Well, we all know what happened with that quote. It's been co-opted to mean we should hustle at all costs. We should be in constant kinetic movement. We should be running. We should be going forward. We should be doing what we do all the time without ever taking a break, without ever slowing down, without ever offloading where we are uncomfortable.
It doesn't take much digging or research to understand what Lee Iacocca was really saying. See, the speed of the boss is the speed of the team was his intention. But what he meant was the speed you, as the boss, are offloading where you are uncomfortable, and changing your behavior is the speed with which your team grows.
If you don't have a system to offload where you are uncomfortable, then you are tolerating too much. If your days are getting harder, the to-do list is growing. Stress is getting higher, and you're adding more pressure and noise. You are building a house of cards that is guaranteed to come tumbling down unless you stop tolerating too much.
Why is it as entrepreneurs we do this? We've all been in uncomfortable situations. We are accustomed to them. We know what it's like to be in a classroom, meeting, or room where we don't want to be. We know what it's like to be in constraint following somebody else's rules, answering someone else's question, and trying to pursue their outcomes. At some point in your life, I'm willing to bet the cards were stacked against you. You didn't have adequate resources, there wasn't enough of whatever you needed to move forward, and everyone in your life was saying, “Hey, you should stop. It's not going to work. You should back off. You should get a job. You should change what you're doing. You should change your strategy. You should do what I'm doing.” And you could see a small sliver of light at the end of the tunnel, and where the world tried to convince you it was a train, you pursued it, went after it, got there, and that's where you created your life and who you are today.
I have news for you. That's not how it has to be. Fail forward, fail fast is a great strategy to get someone out of the gate, but it is not a long-term success strategy. In fact, as entrepreneurs, when we've realized we are tolerating too much, everything in our lives changes. The day you declare you are an entrepreneur, you become a commodity. We become timid about telling people what we are. We start making up a veneer, a story about what's going on. We cut down the transparency with which we share with the world, and I want you to know we have all been there, including me.
After I've researched some of the most successful people in the world, here's what I can tell you. They do not tolerate being uncomfortable. In fact, on a daily basis, they do whatever it takes to remove the pressure and noise in their lives. It allows them to increase their awareness, ability to see the future, their entrepreneurial talents. We know when we lower pressure and noise, that's when our true skills and abilities are unleashed into the world.
When we look at the most successful people out there, we see the evidence of them doing everything they can to stop tolerating discomfort. Successful people don't allow people into their lives who don't give them momentum. They don't let things into their lives that don't provide them with momentum. The most successful friends I have wouldn't even think of going to a place they weren't truly excited about or knew wouldn't contribute to them moving forward.
Now, if you're like most entrepreneurs, you've been tolerating too much for a long time. I want to share with you a simple tactic, a simple system for you to offload where you are uncomfortable daily. It's part of our momentum planner system and part of the Momentum Master Class. It is one of the simple, foundational tactics I teach every private client I work with. You can begin it today, and renew this commitment to eliminating what makes you comfortable so that you can move forward fast.
Each morning ask yourself this simple question: “Where was I uncomfortable yesterday” then write down everything that made you uncomfortable the day before. Wherever you felt the loss of momentum, there was a stall or a stop, and you felt physically uncomfortable, or someone else made you feel uncomfortable, write it down. We are born optimists. When we go out into the world, and we experience challenge, we automatically think to ourselves, “It will get better. It will change. It will improve,” because that's what we naturally do, but that is not the default setting for the rest of the world. That is not the default setting for the rest of the people you know. Most people strive for average and cling to the status quo. If you're waiting for the rest of the world to change so you can be comfortable; you are following the wrong path.
Answering the question: “Where was I uncomfortable yesterday” is a daily discipline. Know that it doesn't have to be only big things. It can be anything. If there's a light switch that doesn't work in your house and it makes you uncomfortable, write it down because those little things increase pressure and noise. If there's a person in your life that's making you uncomfortable write down because you will either improve that relationship, change it, or get out of it. If there's a place where you're going, and you're no longer comfortable being there, write down what is holding you back. Over time, your life will shift. One of the most dangerous things we can do with our personality type is going day after day accepting, absorbing, and increasing the amount of discomfort we are tolerating. See, this simple system will allow you to offload where you are uncomfortable, so you stop tolerating too much.
I'll tell you that the people who create the type of success that you have always known you were capable of, that you have always known you were meant to create, do everything they can to lower what they tolerate. Here is an example. I spoke last year at an event with Tony Robbins. In his interview, he was asked, “What's the advice you would give entrepreneurs in the room who are trying to get traction, who are trying to move forward, who are trying to build teams and make their mark in the universe?” He had one simple statement. “In life, you get what you tolerate.”
So this system is aligned with how Tony Robbins would tell you to build your business and build your life. To sit down and write where you were uncomfortable the day before. If for 365 days, you're willing to write down where you are uncomfortable, and what is causing you constraint, the momentum in your life will shift. It will increase. It will change because, for most entrepreneurs, it isn't so much that we're not creating enough momentum. They've created the habit of tolerating too much operational drag, of carrying too much weight along with them.
Try this. Right now, write down what in your life is making you uncomfortable. Face the fact that once you realize what you're tolerating, it gives you the power to change it. You can change the course of momentum in your life, your business, career, family, and whatever else you want if you offload where you are uncomfortable.
This is the secret of some of the most successful people in the world. You can see it in their behaviors. Branson buys an island so he can be all alone. Billionaires by planes, so they don't have to deal with commercial airports. People purchase entire neighborhoods and knock down the houses so that they can be completely isolated. Mark Zuckerberg bought all the houses around him so nobody could look into his backyard.
When we start recognizing that the most successful people among us do not tolerate discomfort, we can change how we behave in the world and the amount of momentum we can create.
It by no way means you won't be vulnerable. See, vulnerability and being transparent with people, telling the world what's going on and sharing where you are is one of the fastest ways to achieve success as an entrepreneur. Tolerating and being vulnerable are two completely different things. The next time somebody tells you, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” I want you to just think to yourself, “I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to tolerate too much anymore.” And your life will change.