My friend and training mentor, Ian McKelvie, says, “If you can only have conversations with people who agree with you and feel the same things as you, that’s a very small sliver of humanity to access.”
Another really smart guy, Mark Twain, is famous for saying, “When two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.”
Agreed. It’s hard to work or live with someone with whom you disagree all the time on almost everything. But those around us who disagree with our point of view or experience things differently than we do can be a benefit to people who wish to become better leaders. Those that challenge our perspectives or beliefs often make us uncomfortable, but without them, we only surround ourselves with “yes-men” who never give an alternative position to consider. Having only those with whom we agree as company, we begin to believe that our view is the only view and our experience is the only way. This is a dangerously limiting perspective if one wishes to be at the forefront of change in the world and adaptive in nature.
Disagreement and alternative positions make us uncomfortable, but great leaders are usually folks that get really comfortable with being a little uncomfortable. Whether it’s engaging in important but tough conversations, making hard decisions or asking for your people to shoot some holes in your ideas… being temporarily uncomfortable is part of the game of growth. Like building muscle, growth and strength require some stretching and potential soreness to continually access new ways of thinking and fresh ideas.
You may still come to the same conclusion but without ever asking, “Is this the only way this could go?” or “Is there another way to look at this?” we limit potentially valuable information in exchange for comfort… and information is power.
This week, expand your thinking, your choices, and your horizons by getting comfortable with a little discomfort. Invite other points of view and neutrally consider other perspectives of experience. Don’t allow yourself to be closed to new information or ideas and open yourself to the wealth of alternatives available for your consideration. Then see if your decisions still feel right or if you have possibly had a change of mind by thriving in the discomfort.