“If you choose to be courageous, then you have to let go of the need for comfort, because you can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both.” – Brené Brown

This article and video make a convincing argument as to why uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure are essential to a successful entrepreneur journey [substitute ‘entrepreneur’ with ‘change activist’].

As a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, I find this really interesting and pertinent as much of my work with people with depression and anxiety disorders focusses on helping them to tolerate ambiguity, uncertainty and emotional exposure. Irrational and catastrophic belief systems about what might happen in these circumstances can be incapacitating, whether it is a social anxiety about public speaking [what if I forget what to say and people think I’m stupid?] or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder concerning checking locks [what if I don’t check the lock a 3rd, 4th, 5th time?]. Nevertheless, the liberation and opportunity that mastering these fears can bring to the individual is amazing to witness.

For my NHS Change Day pledge in 2014, I wrote about trying to do one thing every day that took me outside my comfort zone. We sometimes get a bit too comfortable in day to day life, and forget that progress always requires effort. This reminds me of this picture:

Comfort zone

As change activists, we must constantly strive to find ‘that place’ where the ‘magic happens’ which more often than not is out of our comfort zone. In therapy, we talk about exposure to fear needing to be regular and sustained otherwise old beliefs and behaviours prevail. I think this is no different for anyone who wants to develop themselves as a transformational leader.

As for vulnerability, well, those whom I respect and value the most as change leaders are those that wear their hearts on their sleeve and are unafraid of articulating their emotions and inner dialogue. Vulnerability isn’t always received well, and means different things to different people, but as change becomes more relational and less transactional, I believe that this is indeed a key attribute of new era of change activists.

What kind of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure do you encounter in your work?

How can you move outside your comfort zone as a change activist?