There’s one thing that leadership how-to’s often leave out: the path to success is uncomfortable. To be more precise, the path to success is all about seeking discomfort. In fact, this framework has pushed people to conquer the highest mountains, break world records, and influence millions of lives.
Tonya Ladipo, CEO of the Ladipo Group, invites us to a paradigm shift and seek the uncomfortable every day. So what are the simple ways to live out of your comfort zone?
Don’t be the smartest person
Our competitive nature as human beings led us to always feel the need to show off or prove our strengths. In meetings and conferences, we are led into thin that sounding like the smartest person in the room is the best way to go. But Tonya is a big believer of, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
Challenge yourself where you are now in rooms. If you don’t understand a lot of what is happening, it means there’s a lot of room for you to learn and grow. – Tonya Ladipo
It is always great to know your intellect, capabilities and skills set in navigating through your career. And as much as you need to be aware of your own capacities, you must also be cognizant of the people who surround you. You are essentially learning from your closest relationships. They influence and shape you every day. And when you realize you’re talking and doing the same things comfortably each day, it’s time to switch rooms.
Connect with people you want to learn from and be thoughtful of what you’re going to offer them as well. – Tonya Ladipo
Keep evolving your circle of friends by intentionally adding new people who can challenge and inspire you. Where do you start? Start with people who are already good with the things that spark your interests. Build a strong connection to them by reaching out. Learn from them, and impart something for them as well. Make it a mutually beneficial connection.
Seek criticisms and challenges
People naturally gain confidence and security when they hear words of affirmation. You can often hear these affirmations from what Tonya refers to as the “Yes People”. Although they feel good and warm, she warns us that these “Yes People” are not always useful for our goals.
Be part of a tribe of people who will challenge you and people who will disagree with you. – Tonya Ladipo
Work with people who genuinely believe in your vision and support it – and not in a blind, patronizing way. Be with people who want you to do well and willing to tell you the truth, even if this means calling you out on your wrongdoings, and won’t beat about the bush in giving honest feedback.
These are the people who can give you valuable support even if it’s uncomfortable. Their criticisms are something to seek for, because these will add value to your work and help you identify areas for improvement.
However, these relationships are not easy to find and cultivate. You need to develop real relationships with people who want what’s good for you, and this entails being open and vulnerable.
There are many ways to learn: by reading books, listening to podcasts, and trying it out for yourself. And through time, we developed ways to shorten the learning curve and make it as less painful as possible. But sometimes, this becomes too ideal and easy.
The biggest lessons are not the successes. It's the ones where you fell flat on your face. And even though it doesn't feel good, it’s also what can make you incredible at your work.– Tonya Ladipo
The lessons you learned from failure are the ones you won’t forget. This is far from just reading and sharing about someone else’s mistakes. Failure’s lasting impression comes from the fact that you made it yourself. Failing simply means that what you first thought and planned, your theory or proposal, doesn’t have the perfect components yet.
But learning from a failure doesn’t nullify its pain. It’s a double-edged sword. You need to allow yourself to feel it and dwell on it to effectively recover, then you can draw lessons from it.