The bookthrew down a challenge. Imagine turning on the shower. Only the cold water. No hot at all. Now, imagine you jump into the
shower. Did you cringe at the thought? Good. Now do it. For 5 days in a row. That was the challenge Julien Smith tossed my way.
I threw the water on. I waited. And waited. I stood there avoiding. I sheepishly crept in. I lasted 30 seconds. I put the hot water on. I fought the “the flinch” to get in the shower. I didn’t fight through it to the end.
Day 2, I forgot. I jumped into the shower. It was nice and warm. Then I remembered. Damn…! I killed the hot water. I lasted a minute in the cold stream. I faced the flinch again but didn’t make it to the other side.
The third day was different. The cold water was turned on. I immediately got in. I took a REALLY fast shower. I avoided the water as much as I could. It was a minimally viable shower. But I made it to the other side. There was power in jumping right in. I got a glimpse at the pain of procrastination compared to the peace of action. It was just easier to step blithely into the cold.
The fourth day was better. Once I committed to get under the water, and stay there, it got easier. The key was choosing how I reacted. I chose to feel the sensation of the cold water instead of reacting to what I thought a cold shower means. It made it invigoratingly pleasant, sort of.
I took a warm shower on the sixth day. I honored my 5 day commitment. I faced the challenge successfully. The warm water was comfortable. I lingered. The shower lasted twice as long. Now I was late. And in a weird way, I was disappointed. I missed the cold shower. The warm shower is more pleasant but less rewarding.
There were many benefits to the cold shower:
- Save time – You don’t have to wait for the hot water. You can jump right in.
- Save money – You don’t pay to heat the water.
- Get focused – You do what you need to do and get out.
- Energize – Your heart rate rises, your respiration increase, an you get an endorphin burst.
But it’s not comfortable. At least not naturally.
A warm shower is comfortable. But comfort is not our friend. Choose comfort long enough and you’ll discover true discomfort. A life not lived, a body that’s broken down from lack of use, a career path that looks more like a rut, children that are holy terrors, a marriage that’s lackluster.
Comfort gets us to keep the same job because it’s easier than getting the job you really want. Comfort gets you to hit the snooze again instead of going for a quick jog to start the day. Comfort leads you to send an email to a prospect instead of picking up the phone. Comfort makes you spend 47 hours editing stuff on your website that doesn’t drive conversions.
Comfort is the bed that procrastination lives in. Comfort is a shallow grave.
All growth requires discomfort. Achievements are accomplished by doing something that makes us uncomfortable.
Maybe you’re not ready to quit your job and go it alone. Maybe it’s too much to start writing and taking the risk of showing it to people. Maybe you’re not ready to have a conversation with your husband about setting up a budget. Maybe.
I’m still taking cold showers. I might be ready to do somethings that I flinch in the face of. But I can practice controlling my flinch every morning. I can learn how to respond to discomfort positively. Each day it gets easier. Each day I learn how to relax in the face of discomfort. That lesson is progress.
Could you use a cold shower?
- Steel Your Nerves Before a Big Speech (inc.com)
- Signs You’re Ready to Be an Entrepreneur (inc.com)
- Harvard Business: How to Avoid Becoming a Person You Hate (blogs.hbr.org)