Years ago, as I was finishing up my dissertation work for my Ph.D. I began to contemplate what might be my next steps. I had been going to school since I was 5 and it was dawning on me that I would for the first time in my 31 years of life not be student anymore. My professional life consisted of working in a management position, teaching part-time, and doing some consulting on the side. I was very comfortable professionally. The thought of changing jobs or even more drastically, changing careers, was not something I automatically sought out. When one evening, a friend asked about my next move after grad school, I said, I don’t think I will make a move, I am pretty comfortable. They replied, “I think there is more to life than being comfortable.” I suddenly felt uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation!
Soon afterwards, my brother-in-law, during a holiday meal, said, “so when you finish your Ph.D. You’re going to be a professor somewhere?” Nope, it wasn’t part of my comfortable path. Then, a few days later, my oldest son Michael, age 6, added to the challenge. He asked if I was going to change jobs after I finished my dissertation. I said, maybe (standard parent language for probably not). He excitedly said, “Good! Because I want you to become a race car driver!”
Out of the Mouths of Babes…
These were small seeds being planted. From my son, it was one of those moments that makes you step back and really question the path you are on. It was in this moment that I knew I was going to change careers. A couple of months later, I began the journey of my academic career as a professor. It has been a fulfilling career, filled with writing, consulting, and teaching. Hopefully it has inspired leaders to go and transform themselves and their organizations. I recognize that while it has been extremely rewarding, it has been far from comfortable,
Being Comfortable with being Uncomfortable
However, I believe I am learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. So as we move into these days of colder weather, darker nights, consider what might be making you uncomfortable and even more importantly, what is making you stagnantly comfortable. What opportunities are you not seeing and perhaps not wanting to see? Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. This can be a real opportunity for facing challenges and adapting to what is happening around you. What exciting changes await you?
If you find yourself pondering similar questions around your own unique adaptive challenges, connect with me on my website, www.drjimmaddox.com or find me on LinkedIn. I would love to explore how you and or your organization can experience life to the fullest and engage in positive, transformative change.