Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

 

I was at a coach’s workshop at the Institute of Sport when the head of capability and expertise Darragh Sheridan delivered the line “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Short, simple and empowering. From a full day workshop, featuring a boxing class and various speakers, the message that still resonates with me is that which is captured in that little quote.

Dreaming

I suppose it was something that I could identify with, and as I navigated the road from a career in professional tennis to re-entry into the “real world”, it was a performance concept that I knew was important for me to hold on to. I’m a dreamer, I have always been. As a kid, I loved dreaming about tennis and being a pro and now as an adult, I’m still dreaming! I dream about new adventures, new businesses. In essence, this is my way of being comfortable with discomfort. I am always thinking about opportunities, about where I want to be and about how to improve. But rather than feeling overcome by the distance, the vastness of the journey, I find comfort in it.

Taking the plunge

I worked hard in my career and certainly achieved a lot as a professional tennis player. My goals were pretty much one-dimensional during that period, but I credit myself with having seen the bigger picture throughout my career. Having peaked with a career high ATP ranking of 145 in doubles, I subsequently played a few years in the predictable space where chasing a top hundred ranking remained the goal, but achieving it was growing less realistic. I wasn’t long recognising that the challenges on the pro-tennis circuit were becoming predictable and repetitive and if I wanted to keep my fire of ambition lit, it was time to set off on a different road. I watched as countless fellow professional tennis players played out their days on the court, getting comfortable with the expectation that they were past their best, but happy to play on nonetheless. For many, tennis has consumed life for decades and the idea of diversifying, doing something new or, god forbid, quitting is so unthinkable, so uncomfortable.

The thought of leaving behind something that was always “my talent” and “my passion” was very intimidating. My decision to hang up my racket wasn’t easy. It represented a shift from the comfort and familiarity of what I had known all my life, to the uncomfortable reality of having to find a new dream and challenge myself with that. But, somehow I saw it as the only way to continue improving.

Stepping outside of comfort

Feeling comfortable in our lifestyles and in our careers is an overlooked error of many people is business’ ways. From my experience in sport and in business, I know that when we feel comfort, we fail to progress. When I challenge myself, I leverage my potential. Sometimes the easiest thing is to keep chasing the same dreams. From my experience, the better choice is always to face the unknown. Feel the discomfort of uncertainty, hang on, and enjoy the ride.I was at a coach’s workshop at the Institute of Sport when the head of capability and expertise Darragh Sheridan delivered the line “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Short, simple and empowering. From a full day workshop, featuring a boxing class and various speakers, the message that still resonates with me is that which is captured in that little quote.

Dreaming

I suppose it was something that I could identify with, and as I navigated the road from a career in professional tennis to re-entry into the “real world”, it was a performance concept that I knew was important for me to hold on to. I’m a dreamer, I have always been. As a kid, I loved dreaming about tennis and being a pro and now as an adult, I’m still dreaming! I dream about new adventures, new businesses. In essence, this is my way of being comfortable with discomfort. I am always thinking about opportunities, about where I want to be and about how to improve. But rather than feeling overcome by the distance, the vastness of the journey, I find comfort in it.

Taking the plunge

I worked hard in my career and certainly achieved a lot as a professional tennis player. My goals were pretty much one-dimensional during that period, but I credit myself with having seen the bigger picture throughout my career. Having peaked with a career high ATP ranking of 145 in doubles, I subsequently played a few years in the predictable space where chasing a top hundred ranking remained the goal, but achieving it was growing less realistic. I wasn’t long recognising that the challenges on the pro-tennis circuit were becoming predictable and repetitive and if I wanted to keep my fire of ambition lit, it was time to set off on a different road. I watched as countless fellow professional tennis players played out their days on the court, getting comfortable with the expectation that they were past their best, but happy to play on nonetheless. For many, tennis has consumed life for decades and the idea of diversifying, doing something new or, god forbid, quitting is so unthinkable, so uncomfortable.

The thought of leaving behind something that was always “my talent” and “my passion” was very intimidating. My decision to hang up my racket wasn’t easy. It represented a shift from the comfort and familiarity of what I had known all my life, to the uncomfortable reality of having to find a new dream and challenge myself with that. But, somehow I saw it as the only way to continue improving.

Stepping outside of comfort

Feeling comfortable in our lifestyles and in our careers is an overlooked error of many people’s business ways. From my experience in sport and in business, I know that when we feel comfort, we fail to progress. When I challenge myself, I leverage my potential. Sometimes the easiest thing is to keep chasing the same dreams. From my experience, the better choice is always to face the unknown. Feel the discomfort of uncertainty, hang on, and enjoy the ride.

James Cluskey

Head of Sport

Mason Alexander

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