This summer, I've committed to being uncomfortable.
And I want you to join me.
Yes, you heard me right- I want you to be uncomfortable.
I want you to feel some pain.
I hope you experience some tension.
Why in the world would I want that?
Well, if you'll trust me just a bit, there's a good reason:
First, it's important to recognize that we are programmed to avoid being uncomfortable. We're programmed to play it safe, to be mediocre men, to keep our heads down.
But success in life (in our relationships, career, health and everything else) requires that we be uncomfortable physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Success requires that we walk into places we've never been before, that we trek into the unknown and experience all the fear and anxiety that comes with it. That's the only way to make meaningful progress on anything.
High performing people don't avoid discomfort, tension and chaos. They can sit it in. They can deal with it and they understand that it's part of the process.
We admire men who have the strength to keep moving forward through uncomfortability:
- Kobe Bryant is sore and tired, yet he chooses to stay in the gym shooting hundreds of jump shots until 1am because he wants to be the greatest player of all time.
- There's the "ordinary" guy in your office who, despite being busy and stressed, wakes up early to play with his toddler before work because he values being a good father.
- Navy seals dive into icy waters under enemy fire on just a few hours of sleep because they love our country.
- The CEO has nerves of steel during high-stakes business negotiations and fights for the good of his organization and employees.
These men stare pain and confusion in the face and they don't run away, they deal with it. They adapt and they become tougher, more gritty.
They become mentally and emotionally strong.
Do you ever wish you were that way?
Do you want to be mentally and emotionally strong?
Do you want to better tolerate risk and uncertainty?
Do you want to never crumble when things get tough?
It's possible, but it does take some purposeful practice.
It takes a willingness to purposefully seek out challenges so that when the day comes that you encounter life's real tensions, you're used to it. You've experienced it before. You know that, whatever the circumstance, you've already won. You've taken control of your mind, emotions and body and you now have the fortitude to continue pushing forward when things get hard.
And so here's how all this theory can now take shape into some actionable steps for men:
Below, I've listed a few practical ideas to challenge us physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually. Some of them take just a few minutes and some you can do for a week, a month or even a year. I'd advise you try them on a relaxed Friday afternoon or Saturday morning to ensure you have adequate time and energy to fully engage.
Some might seem a bit strange. You'll say, "Jay, make eye contact with strangers?! Won't that just make me look like a weirdo?" Yeah, a little bit it. But it's an exercise to challenge us in new, fresh ways we're not used to. We need to work some muscles that probably haven't been used much before.
So yeah, things might feel a bit awkward and weird at first. You'll survive, I promise.
Schedule it on your calendar and commit to doing them, no matter what. Maybe even grab a friend for accountability and commit to doing it together.
Lord knows video games, sleeping in and playing it safe sound better than waking up early, cold showers and running 5 miles.
Challenges for men who want to grow:
1. Take cold showers every morning
2. Wakeup every morning at 5am
3. No caffeine of any kind for one month
4. No alcohol, tobacco, or any other drug for one month
5. Approach 10 strangers a day and strike up a conversation
6. Spend two full days in complete solitude, ideally outdoors (solo camping, for example)
7. Choose a random physical fitness challenge: a long run or swim, 100 pushups in a day, hold a plank until your body gives out, etc.
8. Meditate in silence for 30 minutes a day
9. No carbs or sugar of any kind
10. One month, choose to take all the money you would have spent on entertainment/eating out/socializing and give it to a charity, local organization or church
11. No technology, media or social media consumption
12. Make eye contact with 10 people and refuse to look away until they do
13. Drink a gallon of water a day
14. Every day for a week, write down 25 things you're grateful for in your life (yes, this will force you to get creative after a few days)
15. Stop swearing for an entire month
16. Fast from all food/drink (except water) for 24 hours
Will you join me?