Last week I was presenting a Full Engagement Leadership workshop to about 20 senior leaders in Seattle, WA (the Five Elements of Adventure provide the foundation for this workshop). Working with a smaller group allows for relationship and more interaction. It was a fun and energizing session made even more so by the camaraderie in the room and willingness to ask deep questions with curiosity and sincerity. There was a unique vulnerability in the room – humanity. 


One of the early questions we discussed was “How easily are we distracted from important and vital decisions? How uncomfortable are we willing to be in order to reach our goals or take the team to the next level”? The group, including myself, were unanimous in identifying comfort as the culprit to keeping us from full engagement leadership. We took a closer look at how comfort feeds off of uncertainty and adversity and looked at a variety of solutions. Our focus became “What drives us to step outside of comfort and into challenge”?

We took a short break and focused inward with a values-focused exercise that asked ultimately “What are your non-negotiable values”? The results were varied, but the tone in the room had a palatable shift. Participants became more animated, smiled a bit more, and there was certainly more laughter in the room. We had identified an individual and unique solution for each member: a series of values that historically had supported them and from which they could ground themselves, summon strength, and think about creative solutions. By sitting with, acknowledging, and working with our relationship with comfort – we could then look at solutions; in that order.

Comfort. Action without strategy. Busyness. These were some of the words members identified as symptoms of fear. Their own fear. The kind of fear that gets in the way of your goals and success. The kind of fear that becomes easily justifiable since it maintains comfort. Our workshop then took the logical next step and tackled fear and discomfort via a series of exercises that concluded with actionable next steps supported by accountability. We closed the session with a significant shift and feeling of strength in the room.


How do you maintain do this perspective? How do you shift from comfort to discomfort on your own volition? I’ll be sharing more of my thoughts on that in an article I’ve written for Fast Company. I’ll share that article here after it is published.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts? What is the cost of avoiding discomfort? Has accountability, as a carrot or a stick, helped you step outside of comfort into discomfort and the unknown?

Interested in having your team experience a similar leadership development workshop? Email Matt Walker directly to discuss the options for your team.