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  • Gladys Agawi

Want Success? Take Uncomfortable Action!

“Faith is taking the first step even when you do not see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King




Staying in your comfort zones and routines make you feel at ease and in control. But this comfort level dulls your senses. I have driven to work taking the same route repeatedly and not remembering what happened during the drive. I had tuned out. As life becomes routine and your day or week ends, you look back realizing you have tuned out most of your life and doing so daily. When living on autopilot, you miss out on precious moments that matter.


Are you living on autopilot scared to take uncomfortable action to change? Fear will keep you stuck on autopilot. Fear is your response to threat and danger. This innate emotion of fear brings biological changes that help you flee faster, fight better, sweat, dilate the central blood vessels, and increase muscle tension. Prolonged exposure to fearful stimuli leads to stress. It elevates levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol, which in excess leads to system-wide inflammation, immune system suppression, mental illness, and even cell death. That’s why taking uncomfortable action is something you should embrace.


Putting yourself in new and unfamiliar situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s happy chemical. Did you know that this unique region of the brain is only activated when you see or experience completely new things? You do not have to enjoy being uncomfortable. Just ensure you grow and benefit from discomfort by taking action:


• Clear your head and surround yourself with positive persuasions, i.e., prayer, reading, or talking to a friend.

• Identify your source of discomfort through brainstorming your discomfort on paper. Understand what and why the discomfort (embarrassment about what will others think). Set a plan to change because sudden change will bring you discomfort that you never thought would surface.

• Reflect on what is familiar about your feelings of discomfort. Celebrate small wins of growth and reflect on your failures because they are lessons. Dr. Martin Seligman, Positive Psychology said, “It is not our failures that determine our future success, but how we explain it to ourselves.”

• Take the leap into uncomfortable action. Mark Zuckerberg said, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking any risks."


Allow yourself to see problems and hurdles as opportunities. W.E.B. DuBois, Sociologist, wrote a letter to his daughter Yolande, knowing she would have several feelings of being a fish out of water in her new school halfway around the world. She would be away from all that she knew during a contentious time for African Americans. He did not work to shield her from her fears but asked her to revel in those fears. Below are some areas where you should consider taking uncomfortable action that will help lead to success.


Allow and Accept a Compliment: According to a study by Acknowledgment Works, nearly 70% of you associate embarrassment or discomfort with the process of being recognized due to your own self doubt. A simple thank you will do. If you feel awkward, understand why, and continue to challenge it. Ladies do not minimize what you do personally o professionally.

Publicly Speak: Public speaking magnifies what you consider are imperfections or mistakes. Understand the fear and challenge being uncomfortable when speaking.

Work With Data: Delving into data can be intimidating. But learning to use data to find opportunities and underscore your points can change your perspective and life.

Wake Up Early: Your energy, focus and mental capacity are at their highest during the morning hours when the chaos of the day has yet to set in.

Take Critical Feedback: You must learn to hear criticism without blaming others. In giving you direct feedback, your manager, colleague, or loved one is giving you a shortcut to becoming better.

Give Critical Feedback: Feedback should be provided directly, respectfully, and with examples. The person should leave the conversation feeling empowered to change, not broken.

Fight through Conflict: Do not settle for a compromise you do not like. Know what you want, gather genuine questions, and listen patiently to hear the answers before responding.

Exercise: The ties between exercise and mental capacity are undeniable.

Unplug: 84% of respondents to a TIME poll said they could not go one day without their cell phones with 20% checking more than once every 20 minutes. This takes you off focus, harms relationships, and distracts from what matters.

Network: An uncomfortable move is walking up to strangers to start a conversation. Find common ground, ask questions, listen, and answer questions beyond one-word answers.

Admit Your Mistakes: This is a moment most people dread but it must be done. Corrective action can begin when this uncomfortable action is taken.

Do Something Hard: It is a very scary situation when you intentionally put yourself in a position of uncertainty. Raise your hand to work on a project no one wants or a problem.

Your Boss/Spouse/Partner is Not Always Right: I have had to have a couple of uncomfortable conversations. It came to a point that being polite and quiet was not the best solution because nothing changed. It can advance everyone’s thinking and behavior to have better results. Practice presenting constructive counterpoints.

Promote Yourself: Too many women are taught to stand in the background and not promote their achievements. Embrace a wholistic approach to balance performance, image, and exposure.

Admit When You Do Not Know: It is that simple.


W. E. DuBois said to his daughter, “Do not shrink from new experiences and custom. Take the cold bath bravely. Enjoy what is and not pine for what is not. Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline. Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, to gain the upper hand of your soul.”


Take uncomfortable action to help guarantee your success!


“If you want to change, you must be willing to be uncomfortable.”


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Article Written by Gladys Agwai



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