There’s an old adage that goes- if you’re always comfortable, then you’re not trying hard enough

People generally avoid discomfort and may otherwise view it as an obstacle to get around.  Can discomfort be a motivating factor and actually help people succeed?

A pair of sharp economists from Cornell and Chicago Booth partnered with the training center of the famous Second City comedy and improv center in Chicago, along with conducting four online-based experiments, to study if discomfort can have a positive impact on people.

A quick aside, The Second City has been expanding the boundaries of comedy and improv since 1959 and was the training ground for the original “Not Ready for Prime Time“ players of Saturday Night Live.  Ever hear of great comedians like Joan Rivers, John Belushi, John Candy, Gilda Radner, Alan Alda, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Chris Farley, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Eugene Levy, and Catherine O’Hara?  They all started at Second City.  Visitors to Chicago can still see great comedy and improv there!

Back to the study- the researchers structured the experiment to determine if ‘leaning into’ discomfort acts as a motivator and a way to make more progress.  Different topics were used for the study participants- including reading headlines and overviews of Covid news articles, writing about an emotional issue, or being open and reading about different political views.  The researchers used in-person and online-based groups as a factory for measuring growth under different comfort levels.  The results may be surprising to some readers.

Perhaps the adage has some wisdom to it.  Discomfort is a natural part of life- and encourages us to learn something new to move ahead.  It’s like learning to ride a bike… it may be discomforting at first, but what a blast it is the first time the rider gets it!  Have a read… and let me know your thoughts!

~ Brian Kasal- The Leadership Matrix

Click here- Why Making Yourself Uncomfortable Can Be Motivating

Also, check out my last Leadership Matrix post- A Peek at the Trends in Mortgage Rates and Home Sales

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