Charles Starrett


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Culture consultant & social tech teacher/facilitator at SoulCo & Northeastern University. He/Him. Dad, Harvard and NEC alum, visual thinker, dabbler in ukulele, electronic music, 한국어, and TTRPGs.


Comfort with discomfort

If we want any sort of change in our organizations, our society, or in ourselves, one of the foundational things we have to learn is how to be comfortable with discomfort.

As a species, we have evolved to want things to be predictable. We want to know where to find food and where to find shelter. We want to know about likely threats and how to defend against them.

Our sense of security and safety is rooted in our ability to know things. And the process of change, by definition, is all about the unknowable, and this is often scary to us.

In order to allow change to happen, we need to let go of what we think we know, and to open up to something new. This means we need to also learn to become comfortable with the discomfort, or even fear, of not knowing.

It’s not that there’s something wrong with feeling fear, or that we shouldn’t feel it. Quite the opposite. The fear is natural, and we should feel it so that we can stay open.

The invitation is to practice feeling the fear of the unknown, to see it, and recognize it for what it is, to be kind to ourselves around the fear, and at the same time, see what is causing it.

Because in the case of change, often the fear is coming from something new, something unknown, something unpredicted. A gift of the new change that is coming.

So in this way the fear is a herald, announcing that the change we’re looking for is coming.

So don’t kill the messenger. Don’t deny the fear. The invitation is to practice welcoming the fear in, and listening to what it has to say.

19 September 2022

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