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Uncomfortable Opportunities


I DON'T LIKE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE — who does? But, when I'm feeling uncomfortable, it's often a marker for new opportunities, if I'm open to them.

Here are four stories from my own life, were my being uncomfortable eventually led to great opportunities.

New City, New Life

When I was 15, our family moved from Chicago to Milwaukee. I left friends, my high school and a familiar neighborhood. In Milwaukee it was uncomfortable to start over again, in a new city, school, having to make new friends. But being uncomfortable in a new city provided opportunities to become outgoing and adaptable in new situations. Moving eventually led me to my beautiful wife, our children and relationships with many great friends and colleagues.

A Haircut Leads to Germany

One saturday morning, I walked into my local barbershop and found my barber speaking to a young man in German. I felt a bit uncomfortable, but stayed. I was curious about this guy, Matthias, which led to a great, long-term friendship. A haircut led me to visit Germany for pleasure and business, brought European friends to my life and formed me professionally as I worked 9+ years remotely for MakaluMedia, a web design & development firm in Germany.

From Printer to Designer

In college I was focused on printing, but my school, Milwaukee Area Technical College, required printing, design and photography students take classes in all three disciplines. It was uncomfortable being stretched in three directions, but through exposure to design I found a love for design as a career. I left the printing department for design, graduated and became a professional designer.

My Speaking Moment

Two years ago I was invited to speak on sketchnoting at Pecha Kucha Milwaukee. Back then I was uncomfortable speaking to crowds, but I accepted the challenge. At first, I was a bit freaked out, but worked hard to prepare. My talk was well-received, which gave me confidence. Now I love speaking to people and am excited for opportunities to share my passion with others.

When I remember these and other stories, I'm encouraged. Uncomfortable situations often turn into great, life-changing opportunities.

What uncomfortable situations am I in?

Is there opportunity under the surface?

Update June 2, 2012
Here's some very relevant discussion from Todd Henry: The Accidental Creative Podcast: Gaining Clarity Through Action. Don’t be paralyzed by fear of the unknown! Do what you’re qualified to do, and stop doing the things that only waste your focus, time and energy.

Reader Comments (5)


Thanks for sharing this. I have a horrible fear of speaking in public. I took the first small step toward getting over that recently. I gave a presentation at our local Cocoa Heads (@NSSLO) meeting and I was scared to death. I did survive and I may actually do it again!

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob Fahrni

Thanks Rob - good for you, speaking where you felt uncomfortable! I had a friend tell me that nervousness is really excitement you just don't know how to channel yet. Once I reframed that feeling, I was able to make my nerves into excitement to share and things got much easier.

May 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde



You have let me know that I should prob continue my new adventure. Other people giving their opinion of my art and this makes me uncomfortable but apparently I am really good. So I should prob go forward and see what happens. Thanks.

May 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelleny

Melleny, you should definitely keep on going. I was thinking after this post, one of the reasons successful people are what they are is, this resistance of being uncomfortable weeds out the ones who aren't willing to push ahead.

Two great books from Steven Pressfield to check out are Do the Work and The War of Art I think they would be helpful for you.

May 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde

Thanks Mike,

Thank you for the inspiration. I've added these titles to my shopping bag!

June 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelleny

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