The Secret to Developing Any Skill

pull-upThere’s one thing that I’ve noticed separates those who fail and those who succeed in every new skill that I’ve tried to master–whether it be learning a new language, doing a pull-up, or even completing a challenging project at work.

What separates those who break through to the next level and those who try and fail is that the successful ones areĀ willing to undergo discomfort.

I was in a yoga class a few months ago, and during one particularly difficult stretch, the instructor said “feel the discomfort, feel the pain, and be okay with it.”

This makes so much sense! How else would you be good at yoga if it weren’t for feeling the pain during a stretch and embracing the sensation until your muscles got comfortable enough to relax and stretch further?

The revelation hit me then and I was able to understand that the ideal state for us to be in is not necessarily comfort.

If we’re unwilling to experience discomfort we’re less likely to take risks and grow.

We’ll never be able to put our muscles through enough stress for them to actually tear and rebuild. We’ll never risk being embarrassed by our inability to pronounce a word in a foreign language.

Every time I’ve purposely put myself in a position of discomfort, good has come of it. It may have felt pretty shitty in the moment, but afterwards I never regret it.

I for example, once signed myself up for a public speaking class even though I was extremely afraid of speaking in front of crowds. Pressing the “register for class” button took some courage, showing up to class was the easy part, and actually doing the speeches was terrifying but I did it with the ultimate purpose of growing my skillset and facing my fears.

Travelling through Ecuador was fraught full of discomfort. I wasn’t always sure where we would sleep for the night, or if I would like the food, or even when I could take my next shower or have soap with which to do so. That being said, I only look upon my memories of Ecuador with fondness. It taught me a lot about what’s really necessary to have in life.

I’m finding that with every new skill I learn, I’m facing discomfort. And the more I try new things, the more I’ve been conditioned to accept it as a necessary stop on the route to skill-building.

Sometimes, you’ll fail, and that’s okay. And sometimes what you’re doing will hurt, and that’s okay. But just by being willing to endure the sense of discomfort that comes with that can set you up for a lifetime of breaking through when others were not mentally strong enough to handle it.


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