You really want this thing – to jump in and start your business or to grow your side-hustle in some new way. But, your list of pros and cons for moving forward hasn’t brought you any closer to a decision. At the end of the day, there’s just one question to consider: is the discomfort from growth worth it to you?
It might be a cliche and an overused plot device in pop culture, but making a list of pros and cons is a natural step for people who try to be more driven by logic than emotion – myself included.
We want the answer to reveal itself on the page. Or, at least, we want to make sure that there’s more good that will come from the endeavor than bad.
We just need to gather all the facts and then we’ll know what to do. Surely, facts and reason will show us the way, right?
Go ahead, make that list of pros and cons – it’s important to understand how your actions will impact all aspects of your life, of course. What are the cons for your relationships? Your finances? Your free time? Just to name a few examples.
But, that’s not enough.
To make decisions about your future – to do something big and bold – you need to combine facts with gut instinct and put the cons in their proper place.
You need to be willing to break from the illusion of safety and choose the harder path, which, yes, includes discomfort from growth.
WEIGHING THE PROS & CONS
In The Ride of a Lifetime, Robert Iger – the former CEO of The Walt Disney Company – tells a story about when he and Steve Jobs were discussing Disney acquiring Pixar.
Standing in a large conference room at Apple’s headquarters in California, the two men were working on a giant whiteboard, trying to determine whether or not the acquisition made any strategic sense.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Two hours later, the pros were meager and the cons were abundant, even if a few of them, in my estimation, were quite petty. I felt dispirited, but I should have expected this. ‘Well,’ I said. ‘It was a nice idea, but I don’t see how we do this.’ Steve interrupts: ‘A few solid pros are more powerful than dozens of cons.’ …Steve was great at weighing all sides of an issue and not allowing negatives to drown out positives.”
Later in the book, Iger crystalizes the lesson of this interaction for us, adding: “Don’t be in the business of playing it safe. Be in the business of creating possibilities for greatness.”
The bullets on the page do not have equal weight, so it’s up to you to strip out the noise, put things into perspective, and see what’s possible.
That’s hard. What’s possible is still theoretical. It’s not yet tangible because you haven’t built or achieved it yet. So, of course you’re a little intimidated by it.
You think: ‘how the heck am I going to get from point A to point B?’ The answer, of course, is the same for most situations: by doing the work – by hustling – by stretching yourself and your skills – by taking it one action at a time.
Yes, you will experience discomfort from growth, but isn’t that the whole point? To grow?
THINK ABOUT WHAT’S POSSIBLE
Just a few years prior to starting 321 Liftoff, I was working full-time during the day and pursuing an MBA at night. It was a great experience, but before I decided to apply I felt stuck, so – you guessed it – I made a list of pros and cons.
Of course, there were obvious pros, like: greater earning potential and the opportunity to strengthen my strategy skills.
But, I had a much longer list of cons that kept me up at night.
Yes, some of those cons were trivial, like less time to play videogames or read for pleasure for a few years – there would be too many case studies and group assignments.
Some cons required serious consideration, like: the risk of being less focused at work, having less time with my wife (fiance at the time) – my attention spread too thin.
And, critically, there were also some cons that were, in reality, just ridiculous stories that had to do with fear. I had a good thing going – a good job and a good salary – I could have just played it safe and kept the status quo. Why take on the aggravation and stress?
How short-sighted I was then. I couldn’t see what was immediately in front of me – that the discomfort from growth I would experience would help me move from just good to great.
Too often, we become bogged down by all the reasons we *shouldn’t* do something. We give the negatives equal weight to the positives – or are intimidated by the length of the list on the negative side of the ledger, no matter how trivial each item might seem in the long run.
CHOOSE DISCOMFORT FROM GROWTH
When you’re facing the unknown, it’s easy to get caught in a doom loop of rumination – you think, and think, and think, and take no action.
You want to know the outcome – that it’ll all work out, but the outcome is unknowable. That’s life.
Today, I know that the gravity – the pull – of possibility is stronger than almost anything the status quo has to offer. But, that means you have to deliberately choose the harder path – you have to choose growth.
So, by all means, make that list of pros and cons, but, at the end of the day, there’s just one question to consider: is the discomfort from growth worth it to you?
ONE MORE THING
Starting and growing a business is not a straight line.
It can feel messy – it zigs and zags, it starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok.
It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself.
And, that’s why it’s worth it.