Most individuals, teams and organisations gravitate towards staying in their comfort zones. Sure why not? It’s easier, it’s non-confrontational, its…safe! But that’s why most individuals, teams and organisations are average in terms of their level of performance.

Excuses for not achieving more are normally attributed for them to external factors with little sense of self leadership and ownership over the actual controllables of which there are many.

The reality is that working on the edge of your current level of capability and embracing a certain level of discomfort whether this be physical, mental or emotional will improve performance. This type of performance orientated mindset is counter intuitive to many as we live in a society today that tells us that we should instead seek comfort and reassurance.

Studies have shown that elite athletes as well as successful businesses achieve enhanced performance through intentional practice that stretch them in terms of their current level of capability. They embrace discomfort.  For example, elite skaters were found to try movements beyond their existing level of capability where less proficient skaters did not. Similarly, we see that individuals improve when they play a sport or work with better calibre professionals.  More challenging? Absolutely? Initial discomfort? For sure. But ultimately embracing discomfort improves performance.

With this in mind, consider the following questions…

How does fear of criticism effect your day to day actions?
What action(s) would you be willing to take if you had permission to fail?
What would positively stretch you today?

Related to this concept is ‘ego orientation’ where individuals place enormous value on external recognition and validation but are disillusioned whenever they do not receive it. These individuals are not the type of people that you want on your team when the going gets tough. Contrast this with those individuals that have a ‘mastery orientation’ where they focus on the process of constant improvement and are not obsessed with the end result. They view failures as learning opportunities.  Those that have a ‘mastery orientation’ understand that while perfection is unattainable, they will pursue it relentlessly in the knowledge that in the process they will achieve excellence.

Take a few moments to think about the following…

Who is your harshest critic?
What is your best (most useful) mistake recently?
What habit(s) do you have that you would like to change/get rid of and what positive alternatives might you replace them with?

These concepts relate to that of the unhelpful ‘fixed mindset’ where an individual may say ‘I am a _____ ‘(fill in the blank). Those with a ‘fixed mindset’ view themselves as unchanging, inflexible and struggle with discomfort. Contrasted with this, someone with a ‘growth mindset’ recognises the values of lifelong learning. They understand that they are not in a fixed state but rather that they are fluid and evolving each and every day. They recognise that discomfort in part of the process.  Always learning and improving regardless of how successful they may already be. These are the high performance people, teams and organisations.

Finally, consider the following questions…

If you set a ‘100 day plan’, what would it look like specifically?
How will you map your priorities?
What do you need to let go of in order to achieve your plan?
How will you measure success?

Joe McDonald, founder of create10 is a registered and experienced professional coach and trainer.  Working with individuals, teams and organisations thorough coaching, workshops and online learning.  If you too are passionate about performance then lets have a conversation.  Email: and for further information see