Entering the Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Can Turn Difficult Conversations into Breakthroughs

The best leaders make us feel unsure of ourselves.

They help us recognize that what we think is true, is not. Their reflections make us stop and think.

Then their questions break down our frames. They create these disruptions with courage, care, respect, and a firm belief in our highest potential. Although we are uncomfortable, this moment of uncertainty allows us to formulate a broader view of what we can do and who we can be.

Welcome to the Discomfort Zone.

The most memorable leaders make us recognize that in the moment we become unsure of who we are, learning happens. When we are not sure of who we are and what we should do, we are vulnerable enough to learn. The most memorable leaders know how to create and use the Discomfort Zone.

Dr. Marcia Reynolds recognized the most important ingredient for making a conversation transformational is listening beyond the spoken word. In her recent book The Discomfort Zone, she offers a model for using the moment when the mind is most open to learning to prompt people to think through problems, see situations more strategically, and transcend their limitations.

According to Reynolds, effective leaders often associate their ability to deeply listen with their capacity for accessing their intuition. The best coaches and leaders say they listen to their intuition while listening to others. We have intuition but we don’t consciously listen to it, especially when we are listening to what others are trying to tell us. The clues are between the lines, but we don’t notice.

The powerful questions that change people’s mind emerge when you listen to your intuition. You ask about what you sense—what fears, disappointment, needs, or desires are conveyed to you without words. They then stop, and question themselves.

>> Download a manifesto about The Discomfort Zone here.

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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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