Step into Discomfort
Whether it’s helping a stranger, re-inventing our company, or re-inventing ourselves we need to learn to step into discomfort. Marcus Porcius Cato the Younger, better known simply as Cato, was a Roman senator credited with bringing Stoicism into the mainstream. He emphasized that because “virtue is sufficient for happiness,” a sage would be emotionally resilient to misfortune. Because of this, Julius Caesar wanted him dead. Yet, over the years, his list of admirers came to include George Washington, Dante, Benjamin Franklin, and emperor Marcus Aurelius. The Founding Fathers viewed him as a symbol of resistance to dictatorship.
One stoic method that Cato practiced can be particularly helpful in our desire to focus. Cato donned unpopular colors like black instead of the popular purples of the day. He often left his home without sandals—considered extremely taboo at the time. He’d even strut around town without his tunic. These actions would turn heads. Was he a narcissist seeking attention? Not at all. He was training himself. At first he would feel ashamed by wearing such unpopular apparel. Over time this taught him to be ashamed only of what deserves shame, and to despise all other sorts of disgrace. In other words, he had learned to focus only on what truly matters and not to worry about insignificant matters.
Stepping Into My Story
I’ve been wearing bright green classes for years. Oh, the stares I receive. Some people think they look foolish, while others love them. Like Cato, at first, I felt embarrassed, ridiculous, and ashamed. However, as the days stretched into months, I started to realize the genius behind what Cato had learned centuries ago. Learning to step into discomfort made everything else seem more comfortable. Wearing green glasses also taught me to focus on what was important and what was not. Who cares if someone I don’t know at the airport thinks I look silly wearing green glasses? It doesn’t matter. These little things just don’t matter. The glasses taught me only to focus on the significant areas of my life.
Go ahead and try it yourself. The next time you get up to the register at your local coffee shop, but before you order, ask if you can have a 10% discount before you order, or ask if you can have a large cup for the cost of a medium.
Similar to what the ancient philosophers discovered, actions that force us out of our comfort zones often lead us to enlightened moments. We can train ourselves not to sweat the small stuff.
If this post helped you, please feel free to share with a friend and check out The Focus Project.
Now available on Amazon.
For more information on how to focus on what matters most, check out the Super U podcast.