Making people uncomfortable

It’s not an end in and of itself, but if you want to get things done, you’ve got to be less concerned with accommodating everyone and more concerned about outcomes.

That usually means people are going to feel uncomfortable around you at some point. Probably not eternally uncomfortable, but at least temporarily.

There’s a pretty obvious reason for this. Getting people to perform at a level they’ve never performed at before, or more consistently than they have in the past, typically takes decisions and actions that push people out of their comfort zones, doing new things or doing old things more routinely. And people like their comfort zones — they’re called that for a reason.

But if you want to do something remarkable in your career, I’d follow Seth Godin’s advice on causing a ruckus: “In my experience, once it’s clear you’re willing (not just willing, but itching, moving, and yes, implementing) without them, things start to happen. People are rarely willing to step up and stop you, and often just waiting to follow someone crazy enough to actually do something.”

Knowing that you’re going to make people uncomfortable doesn’t give you a license to do it in order to make waves. Don’t be a jerk just to be called a jerk. Influencing others to want to come along for the ride is far more enjoyable and rewarding. If you can get people to give their best on some minor aspect of a project right now, while helping them see the big picture, you’re on the right track.

But ultimately, you’re not going to accomplish extraordinary things if you stroll through life trying to make life easier for everyone.

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