The state of discomfort

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We humans love comfort and habit. We seek consistency, predictability, and the familiar. Comfort can provide joy, relaxation, and tranquillity. It acts as a safe haven when the world seems chaotic or dangerous. Yet, growth and comfort can’t always go hand in hand. When we get too used to comfort, we may stagnate and miss out on chances for personal and professional growth. Comfort may create a false sense of satisfaction. This could draw us into stagnation and complacency, like a goldfish that can only grow to the size of its bowl. So, what about discomfort?

Photo by Ahmed Hasan on Unsplash

Breaking the routine

Scientific studies show repetitive thoughts and actions hinder growth. New experiences and challenges stimulate our brain’s neuroplasticity. This is our brain’s ability to form new neural connections throughout life. So, sticking to routine and familiarity robs our brains of this stimulation. Discomfort, despite its negative connotations, can be a valuable catalyst for progress. Breaking habits, trying new things, taking risks, forging new connections or embracing unfamiliar situations are not always easy. Yet, through these challenges, we often uncover opportunities for growth and innovation.

Tiptoeing into the cold water

Stepping into discomfort requires courage. It also gives us a chance to break free from our self-imposed limits, explore new frontiers, and unlock dormant potential. Understanding that discomfort is a temporary state is crucial. It may be scary at first, but this discomfort will ease as we adapt to new situations. Each challenge we overcome brings us closer to becoming more adaptable, flexible, and resilient. When we face adversity, we learn new skills, adopt new perspectives, and push boundaries. We expand our understanding, build resilience, and develop emotional intelligence, all crucial for long-term success.

The art of flourishing in discomfort

We should not only push ourselves out of our comfort zones, but also learn to thrive within them. This doesn’t mean seeking out suffering or putting ourselves in harmful situations. It’s about seeking experiences and challenges that will drive us to become more than we are today. Regularly seeking out new experiences is crucial, says psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo. According to her, those who do this tend to be more creative and emotionally resilient. Embracing discomfort can boost our confidence and self-esteem, and helps us progress in our lives.

Benefits of embracing discomfort

Mastering discomfort can open up a world of new opportunities. It can help us beat procrastination, establish new habits, learn new languages, explore new hobbies, and overcome physical and mental challenges. These tasks might seem hard at first, but with repetition and perseverance, they become less daunting. The benefits of discomfort are manifold. It acts as a catalyst for change, forcing us to face the fear that stops us from living our best lives. It encourages us to stretch our minds and rise to the occasion. Most tasks seem unachievable until they are done. It is often through discomfort that we discover our true capabilities.

The role of a Scrum Master

A Scrum Master can play a critical role in fostering a team environment where learning thrives and pain fuels progress. Their job is to promote communication, encourage cooperation, and establish a culture of continual improvement within the team. They push team members to accept new challenges, learn from failures, and adapt to change swiftly. Scrum Masters can use various tactics to help the team become comfortable with discomfort. They may start by normalizing discomfort, highlighting that it’s a natural part of development and creativity. They may also show that times of discomfort often precede important breakthroughs.

Encouraging a growth mindset

Instilling a growth mindset among the team is one of the most effective ways a Scrum Master can promote a culture of learning and comfort with discomfort. This involves encouraging team members to view problems as learning opportunities rather than impediments. They can lead by example, treating errors and failures as necessary parts of the learning process, not as evidence of incompetence. Scrum Masters can also propose team activities that force members to step outside their comfort zones. They can lead seminars and brainstorming sessions that encourage creative thinking. This generates intellectual discomfort in a safe and supportive setting. They can also foster a feedback-friendly culture, where constructive criticism is viewed as a tool for progress, not a personal attack.


In conclusion, accepting discomfort may be one of the most liberating choices we can make for our personal and professional growth. By choosing to see discomfort as a tool for self-improvement, we open ourselves up to endless growth and achievements beyond our wildest imaginations. For Scrum Teams, Scrum Masters can be critical in this process. They normalize discomfort within teams, stimulate new thinking, and develop a culture of constructive criticism. They help to shape a learning environment in which discomfort is celebrated as a gateway to growth.

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