The Secret Ingredient to Reaching the Next Level

The secret to reaching the next level is discomfort.

Discomfort is where improvement begins. You must allow others to work through discomfort if you expect them to reach the next level.

Allow discomfort:

Comfort stabilizes performance, but also hinders improvement.

Constant comfort is deadly.

Leadership is about relationships and environments that provoke others to reach for the next level. Moderate discomfort is central to the process.

Reaching for the next level includes discomfort.

“How can I help?” is a great leadership question. But if you’re interested in taking teams to the next level, helping less may be helpful.

7 signs you help too much:

  1. Performance over time doesn’t improve.
  2. People run to you for help before making their best efforts without you.
  3. You’re the first person people come to, rather than colleagues or team members.
  4. People expect you to cover for them. Bailouts are a daily practice.
  5. You frequently say, “I’ll take care of that for you.”
  6. Low accountability continues or worsens.
  7. You make excuses for the poor performance of others.

Too much help is hindrance.

7 ways to allow discomfort:

#1. Believe people will rise to challenges.

Helping less is an expression of confidence. “I believe in you.”

#2. Trust that working through moderate difficulty elevates fulfillment. Work that isn’t challenging isn’t fun or fulfilling.

#3. Delay helping. Don’t rush to rescue. Ask questions.

  1. “What have you tried?”
  2. “What are you learning?”
  3. “What might you try?”

Too much help encourages helplessness.

#4. Be available.

Helping less isn’t detachment. It’s respect. Participate in conversations about purpose, improvement, process, goals, and achievements.

#5. Challenge directly while providing encouragement.

People respect you when you believe in their abilities.

#6. Monitor frustration.

#7. Offer support, like a spotter with a a weightlifter.

Warning:

Too much discomfort is destructive. Think of adding too much weight to the bar.

What role does discomfort play in reaching for the next level?

How might leaders allow for discomfort in the improvement process?