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  • So, I was on a roll.

  • I was an executive with a nice salary,

  • annual bonuses, and stock options,

  • all the perks.

  • Everything was on track.

  • And on Monday, January 7th, 2008

  • at three o'clock in the afternoon,

  • in a small conference room on the top floor of our building,

  • the president of the company wanted to have a quick meeting with me,

  • which wasn't unusual since he was my boss.

  • But the meeting turned out to be even more brief than expected.

  • He fired me.

  • And I'll never forget how his words just sucked the breath right out of me,

  • and I left the conference room in a dazed state,

  • and I went home and curled up in my bed in the fetal position for three hours.

  • And while I could go on in vivid detail about how I felt,

  • what it did to my self-esteem, my finances, and so on,

  • what I now realize is,

  • while that event created the greatest amount of discomfort I had ever felt,

  • it was that discomfort,

  • the departure from my ordered life,

  • that forever changed it for the better.

  • You see, friends,

  • what makes you comfortable can ruin you,

  • and what makes you uncomfortable is the only way to grow.

  • Let me say that again:

  • What makes you comfortable can ruin you,

  • and only in a state of discomfort, can you continually grow.

  • Now, I suppose if on January 8th, somebody come up and said,

  • "Gee buddy, getting fired is a good thing because now you're really going to grow!"

  • I probably would have smacked them.

  • But, pretty quickly I became motivated to start a new journey,

  • and after a couple years of work with my new team

  • and a PhD friend at the University of Nebraska,

  • we had this epiphany

  • on how to illustrate and apply the science of discomfort and growth.

  • We called the concept: the "Growth Rings."

  • The Growth Rings represent living environments

  • that promote or hinder growth.

  • And that includes everything from your place of work,

  • to even a fishbowl.

  • You see, what dictates the size of a goldfish

  • is its environment.

  • And while this goldfish lives in a very safe environment,

  • it's also very limiting in most every way.

  • And when placed in a more robust environment,

  • like, say, a small pond, this can be the result.

  • Now, it also means he could be eaten.

  • But friends, this is you -

  • the environments in which you work, live, and play,

  • they're all a proverbial fishbowl that dictates your growth.

  • So, the first Growth Ring represents a low-performing, low-growth environment,

  • called stagnation.

  • Stagnation is understood by having to follow too many steps,

  • and permissions, and minutiae.

  • That stifles creativity, independent thought, and action.

  • To imagine an environment such as this,

  • think no further than our state and federal governments.

  • Now, the antithesis of stagnation is chaos,

  • also low-growth and low-performing.

  • Chaos can be caused by internal or external events or conditions.

  • We see chaos occur at times in business mergers,

  • natural disasters, and horrific events like 9/11.

  • Chaos is having zero predictability or control

  • over inputs and outcomes.

  • Coming back down the Growth Rings,

  • next to stagnation is the most desirable environment: order.

  • Order is knowing that what you do, or what is happening in your environment,

  • leads to a predictable outcome.

  • And in predictability, comfort is found.

  • But comfort is also what makes order so dangerous.

  • Because science shows that anytime you continually do something,

  • or even think about something the same way,

  • you'll eventually stop growing.

  • And this applies to every living thing -

  • even our dog.

  • You see, if Aspen had a chance,

  • she'd choose comfort six days a week and twice on Sundays.

  • (Laughter)

  • But too much growth-limiting order

  • would have prevented her from becoming a therapy dog,

  • and had this been allowed,

  • think of the lives this gentle soul would not be touching today.

  • So, before your order continues to limit the way you think and act,

  • remember what I said earlier:

  • Growth only occurs in a state of discomfort.

  • Now, think about the power of that phrase:

  • Growth only occurs in a state of discomfort.

  • I can unequivocally state, I wouldn't be standing on this stage today

  • without my uncomfortable, order-disrupting day, nine years ago -

  • by the way I'm not recommending you go get fired to see if it leads to a TEDTalk.

  • (Laughter)

  • When you feel discomfort hit,

  • that means you've entered the complexity ring.

  • Complexity is nothing more than changed order,

  • but when your order is changed, outcomes are no longer predictable,

  • and it's unpredictability that makes you uncomfortable.

  • And while most times

  • your visceral response to discomfort is not just "No" but "Hell, no,"

  • you can actually learn how empowering it is

  • to consciously acknowledge discomfort,

  • and then, when appropriate, choose complexity over order.

  • And I know seeking discomfort sounds odd, and not many people do it,

  • but you have to learn to embrace it

  • because it's the only environment

  • where sustained or exponential growth can occur.

  • Okay.

  • To weave high-growth complexity into the fabric of your lives,

  • there are three primary ways it can be triggered.

  • Complexity trigger number one is it can be forced upon you.

  • When I got fired, I didn't have a chance to stay in order,

  • complexity was selected for me, and when this happens,

  • how much you grow depends on how you respond to it.

  • Now, I could have remained angry, I could have used it as an excuse,

  • but what I actually learned is that I suck as an employee,

  • and I'm much better off accepting the risks of running my own company.

  • Complexity trigger number two: Someone can help you get there.

  • This is the role of parents, teachers, coaches, and bosses.

  • Because left on their own,

  • people will consciously or subconsciously select the comfort of order.

  • And they then need to be pushed into complexity

  • in order to continue growing.

  • My youngest daughter spent most of her high school life

  • training to play tennis,

  • and her coach was pretty familiar with our work

  • on complexity and the Growth Rings.

  • So, I called him up one day to check on Maddie's progress,

  • and I was able to phrase my question like this, I said:

  • "Hey, Lee, how long has it been

  • since Maddie's been pushed deep into complexity?"

  • Lee's response:

  • "Hmm, funny you'd ask, Bill. We got there yesterday.

  • She broke down into tears on the tennis court."

  • "Huh."

  • Well, knowing how tough my daughter is, and the fact that she never cries,

  • told me she was deep into complexity.

  • But, friends, this is where critical developmental decisions are made

  • because the old Bill, the pre-Growth Ring Bill,

  • would have intervened and wanted to know what was making her so uncomfortable.

  • Then I would have done everything I could to try and get her happy again.

  • What I really would have been doing

  • is removing the complexity, and putting her in order.

  • I actually would have been stifling her development.

  • But the new, post-Growth Ring Bill relished in his daughter's discomfort.

  • (Laughter)

  • And it was the coach's next words that told me everything I needed to hear.

  • He said, "Bill, I've got to tell you, it took a heck of a lot more

  • to get her to the limits of complexity this month,

  • than it did last month."

  • Discomfort was causing her growth.

  • Okay, but what if you're not lucky enough

  • to live or work in a robust high-growth environment?

  • What if you're stuck in order, even worse, stagnation?

  • Well, the great news is,

  • everyone can trigger complexity at any time.

  • So, complexity trigger number three: Trigger it yourself.

  • Take a journey with me back to Montgomery, Alabama

  • in the 1950s.

  • Imagine if you will, a young girl, who's black,

  • and she attends an all-black high school.

  • And she takes the city bus to get there and home,

  • which wasn't unusual in that era.

  • And on March 2, 1955, she boards a bus to come home from school,

  • and she sits near the back,

  • in the first row of seats where blacks were allowed to sit.

  • And as the bus continues to fill with white people,

  • there's eventually no more room in the front.

  • And according to local law

  • she needed to move further back to create room for white people to sit.

  • You see, Montgomery had an order in place

  • that when followed, led to a very predictable outcome:

  • repression of people with little conflict.

  • But 15-year-old Claudette Colvin

  • had just spent the last month in high school studying black history,

  • and she was understandably fed up with the historic and existing atrocities.

  • And so on this day, she decided she didn't like Montgomery's order,

  • and by refusing to give up her seat,

  • she sent a community, our laws, and our entire country into complexity.

  • Yes, nine months before Rosa Parks made her famous decision to stay put,

  • it was a 15-year-old girl

  • that was handcuffed, dragged from the bus, and taken to prison.

  • It was Miss Colvin, not Rosa Parks, who first fought the law,

  • and by the way,

  • was also the star plaintiff to testify in the famous lawsuit

  • that went all the way to the US Supreme Court.

  • So,

  • I use Claudette's actions not to heighten awareness of race issues,

  • although that's not necessarily bad,

  • but I used it as an example of every issue,

  • of every situation in an ordered environment.

  • It's a real and perfect example of complexity forcing people,

  • our communities, and our courts into discomfort,

  • and the downstream impact that can occur

  • anytime someone elects to move from order.

  • Dr. Serene Jones, in a recent book, summarizes this concept very eloquently.

  • She said: "The constant facade of order

  • hides the wilderness that is craving to seep out and teach us

  • that life wasn't created to be what we think it is.

  • Beyond words, we must experience the wilderness

  • to be taught what cannot be otherwise known."

  • So, friends,

  • it's not the discomfort of losing a job,

  • it's not having a child break down on the tennis court,

  • but it's order you should fear the most because it is a threat.

  • And order-disrupting people

  • like Jesus, Galileo, Claudette Colvin, Aspen's trainer,

  • and maybe even a few of you have already proven -

  • now, think about this -

  • it's not the complexity-triggering individuals or events

  • you should fear the most,

  • but it's your own willingness to accept or seek discomfort

  • that will dictate the growth of not just you,

  • but our entire world.

  • Thank you very much for allowing me to be a part of this.

  • (Applause)

So, I was on a roll.

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B1 US discomfort complexity growth environment trigger comfort

【TEDx】Why comfort will ruin your life | Bill Eckstrom | TEDxUniversityofNevada

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    許米漿 posted on 2017/04/20
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