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Complaining is the Comfortable Choice

Coach Stephen Nock by Stephen Nock
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In the moments of my life where I felt most that I was struggling, I recognized that I wasn’t aware of any goals. I wasn’t stretching myself in any way. Being comfortable or in our comfort zone is both a blessing and a curse. Every morning that I move from my warm, cozy, safe bed to the just-warm-enough neighborhood swimming pool I’m reminded of the physical shift of my comfort zone. The nip of the water asks resentfully, “what’s wrong with the comfort zone!?”

We’re not growing in the comfort zone. Growth and evolution are necessary for our survival. So, yes, it’s a necessity for me to slip into the pool and do my morning laps.

Though it’s not “easy,” we need to choose to get or stay outside our comfort zone to support our development. It can be helpful to recognize what activities or scenarios are within and outside someone’s comfort zone, which raises the self-awareness of things that we perceive to be hard as… yes, hard!

Part of being a coach is engaging in ongoing learning and development as a coach. Learning and development also typically happen outside of the comfort zone.

The past few weeks I’ve been in an online course, refreshing my knowledge of the CLG’s 4 Questions of Conscious Leadership. Conscious leaders are people willing to take responsibility for their impact in present, non-triggered, and non-reactive ways. While much of the information felt familiar, this week’s re-introduction of unconscious commitments shook me awake like a foghorn in the night. Imagine a complaint or issue in your life, something that bothers you and returns to your mind as an irritation, something or someone who you think should be different from how it is. For example, I’m terribly annoyed that the internet in my apartment randomly drops, and it’s always at important moments. I could complain about this for hours, to anyone who will listen. I could also send you links to studies and news articles that point to the evidence of why I’m right that Germany’s internet is notoriously weak and unreliable.

So how do we work with this in conscious leadership? We take my complaint, and drop it behind the words: “I am unconsciously committed to”. I am unconsciously committed to the internet in my apartment randomly dropping. Yes, I am actually contributing to this situation and my behavior indicates that I am committed to keeping the problem going. The next exploration would be if I’m willing to shift and develop a different conscious commitment. In my experience, I’m very likely to get a “no.” In such an inquiry, it’s most probable that I’m actually more comfortable continuing to complain about my internet than I am committing to an alternative conscious commitment.

So, I have the choice to stay in my comfort zone, complaining about why I’m right and reality is wrong, or I have the choice to step outside of my comfort zone, stretch myself, take responsibility, and learn. This is the art of a coaching process. We always have a choice.

Which would you choose?


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