Three Uncomfortable Things Successful People Do (That You Should Too)

There are a number of things that many of us avoid each and every day that successful people do not.

This could be a tough conversation with an employee or friend, or some overdue task that just seems to fester the longer you leave it. I know I used to approach difficult situations hesitantly, instead of tackling them head on. But successful people see it differently. They practice dealing with discomfort on a day to day basis. They just call it life, while psychologists call it eustress. 

Eustress allows successful people to see obstacles as opportunities, failures as learnings and setbacks as a chance to start again. They have three practices that I’ve adopted along with many others that could make you uncomfortable, but more prepared for the long term. 

1. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE HAVE MORNING RITUALS

“Morning is an important time of day because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.” – Lemony Snicket

If you’re not a morning person it is time to practise getting up and creating a routine. By allowing yourself to wake up earlier (before the notifications start coming in and the tasks you have leftover from yesterday start hitting you) you can give yourself an important head start.

Get up an hour before you’re needed anywhere. This extra preparation time gives you the ability to go through the appropriate mental tasks, to focus on what is important, instead of mechanically following one activity to the next.

Use the extra time to meditate – it is incredibly powerful for your brain. A number of studies have shown increases in brain density for focus, problem-solving and mental flexibility. If you’ve ever lost your temper or felt frustrated by menial tasks, this is a skill well worth practising. It will only take minutes in the morning but give you extra hours in the day.

Over 95% of the millionaires and success stories I’ve interviewed have some form of a morning ritual. It’s time to start your own.

2. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE ARE NOT AFRAID TO ASK

“Sometimes being uncomfortable is the only way to save yourself from settling” – Andrea Ager

If you’re like a majority of people in this world then the thought of talking to a stranger is terrifying. It has the opportunity to make both parties uncomfortable and anxious. However, on the other side, it gives you the ability to create opportunities and make new connections at will.

The idea of this task is to practise being comfortable with the idea of rejection. Most successful people view rejection as an opportunity to reappraise their efforts and find improvement. Earlier in my career, a mentor told me the two things he held in his mind when attempting to chat with someone he’d never met: 

1. This won’t kill you – you’re not going to die from this encounter
2. But what opportunities could you miss out on if you let them pass you by

He’d totally recalibrated the risk vs reward equation. 

This stranger could become my friend, business partner or a valuable connection. They may have an interesting story or help expand my knowledge and skills.

The worst-case scenario is that they don’t reply – their loss, you’re awesome and you need to remember that. 

Funnily enough, once someone doesn’t respond to you, the next time it happens it won’t be as difficult. Successful individuals practise this so that they won’t be deterred when it matters. Your first pitch to an investor fails? Who cares, you now have the resilience from this rejection to do it again. 

Remember, rejection and failure are an opportunity to start again, this time more intelligently.

3. SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE SAY NO

“I refuse to please others at the expense of my emotional well-being. Even if it means saying NO to people who are used to hearing yes.” – Ariana Huffington

If you’re like most people, you’re constantly fielding requests at work. The tasks are formal and informal, large and small, and from all across the organisation. The inflow is so great, you can’t possibly agree to everything. So it’s crucial to learn when to say no. No is a word that too many of us look at with a negative connotation.

Those who are consistently saying yes fail to honour existing commitments because they’ve taken on more than they can chew. When you use no, you’re agreeing to give the best of yourself to the things you’ve already agreed upon. Most successful people have a list of things they say no to so that they can focus on the few things that will move the needle the most in their lives. 

HOW TO USE THIS ADVICE?

You can start practising any of these tasks at any time. Start small and work your way up.

1. Set your alarm clock just 10 minutes earlier each morning, for a week.
2. Talk to a stranger in a common location. If you go to the gym, talk to a stranger there. You both have exercise and health in common. If that is too much, email me – we’re strangers but we will have this article in common.
3. Next time you’re asked to do something that would make you overcommit, say, “I’ve agreed to something that I have to give 100% of my efforts to. I’m sorry, no I can’t help you.” The hardest part about saying ‘no’ is not giving another time frame for when you’ll be able to say ‘yes.’ Stay firm and don’t change your answer. 

Finally, success is what you make of it but I promise you from experience, I’ve learned the most from my failures. Nobody has achieved great things when they’re comfortable, so start being more uncomfortable.

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