How Comfortable Are You With Being Uncomfortable?

I’ve been thinking about Lean lessons and I had an inspiration from my workout. I work out out at CrossfitCFT (a Crossfit affiliate gym in Nashville)and we have a mantra “be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” What does that mean and what the heck does working out have to do with Lean manufacturing.

First off the picture is me and I wanted to illustrate a point. The exercise is a dead lift and the weight is 325 lbs. A year ago when I started I was able to lift 225 lbs. How did I make such a big jump? Lots of reasons but to simply I kept improving and I was very comfortable at being uncomfortable. The improvements from changes in diet and technique were huge at first (225 lbs – 275 – 315) but I started to level off. The next improvements were smaller (315-320-325-327[current level]) but were steady. The reason the improvements were being made was because I would operate outside my comfort zone. I would push myself hard but not to the point of injury. When we are in our comfort zones we aren’t growing or changing and if I didn’t push myself I would still be at 315 or less. It’s hard work getting better when you’re at the edge of your abilities and too often we forget that other people don’t stop training. Today you may be the heavy lifter but a few months from now you aren’t because someone else has been working hard and pushing themselves outside their comfort zone.

It then hit me! Lean is the same way. Everything we do is designed so we don’t stay in our comfort zone and we continue to grow. We have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable because if we aren’t adapting our companies then we aren’t growing and changing and we are going to be over taken by companies that are adapting and changing. So let me ask you if you are practicing lean: “how comfortable are you at being uncomfortable?”