If You Can Accept Discomfort, You Can Achieve Personal Greatness

Taking more creative risks will set you free

Darren Stehle
Sep 14, 2018 · 6 min read

A couple of years ago I watched the first episode of the first season of Chef’s Table on Netflix. I was transfixed! I had tears in my eyes, not for sorrow, but for the truest expression of unbound, loving, heart-felt creativity that oozes from Chef Massimo Bottura’s entire being.

Watching the episode reminded me that you have to take risks in your art and craft, that you have to believe in yourself and your goals — and most importantly — that you will need a cheer-squad for those dark days, weeks, and maybe even years before you succeed.

Taking risks is not about trying to be different or trying to make a name for yourself.

You can’t predict anyone will care, follow you, or even support what you do — especially if you are only motivated by your ego. If the ego doesn’t get recognition (“Hey, look at me!”) your efforts feel diminished and wasted.

Instead, taking creative risks means being aware of what other people are doing, but not giving a fuck about what anyone else thinks about what you are trying to accomplish.

Setting yourself apart doesn’t imply disrespecting what others have done who have gone before you.

Nor does it mean being belligerent. I’m talking about taking the kinds of risk that are deeply felt within the core of your being. This is not the same kind of risk as riding a rollercoaster or sky-diving.

This is a risk of the soul, exposing your truth, your abilities, and your creative genius to the world.

If you want to create something truly great and of incredible value that will improve people’s lives, you need to shut out all the voices, all the criticism, all the “You should do this” suggestions, trust your gut and risk it all.

Dare to take risks of the soul, expose your truth, and creative genius to the world.

True greatness comes with a razor-sharp cost.

If you don’t slide back and forth across the sharp blade of risk, bleeding, yet still believing you can make it, you’ll fall off to the side of regret, foetal on the ground, licking your wounds. What a shitty place to rest! It’s not where I want to end up.

Instead I Choose Discomfort

I’ve been uncomfortable for over a decade and I can’t stop now — its too late to turn back. The reasons are many, but over the last 10–15 years I have,

  • Invested my entire sense of self into my work and exposed who I am to the online world;
  • Spent countless hours planning, executing, failing, and starting over;
  • Invested money I didn’t have and went into crippling debt (not something I would advise), and;
  • Expended physical and emotional energy to the point of illness (I sometimes crossed that line) to get to this point in my life.

It’s rare now that I slide along that razor sharp edge of achieving my goals. I know I will succeed, scars and all, because I have learned how to live off of, and not on that edge. I trust in my own impact — which comes from knowledge, experience, and wisdom. I’m stubborn enough to use my mental toughness to withstand the bleeding and discomfort of risk taking.


Comfort Is the Antithesis of Transformation

We all need to be coached, mentored, cheered for, or guided in some way — it simply helps us feel like the work we’re doing has meaning, and a potential for influence and impact.

What I need in my own journey is not just quality guidance. I need to be challenged to play the game of risk and to push my boundaries. When I work with a coach, she needs to see right through me, hear my stories and refuse to let me play “that same old record” over and over.

Intuitively I recognize I need to bring more creative risk into my daily thinking and endeavours to achieve my business and lifestyle goals. I need to remind myself that it’s okay to offend people and not care. What I do, write, or say might not be an offence per se, but my message or delivery might shock, or exist outside the status quo.

Speak Up and Speak Out

I’m tired of not being enough of a vocal critic for the crap people are led to believe, either by heavily funded marketing campaigns, distortions of truth, blatant lies, and sensationalist non-investigative reporting resulting in misinterpreted, misrepresented, or entirely ignored facts.

I’d rather have a small loyal following of people who I engage with and challenge, and who know I’m doing my best to improve and help transform their lives from the inside out.

This is not because I have some proprietary system or because I’ve come up with a better way of working than others. I speak the truth — as best I understand it — because I understand age-old foundations. I seek the good, eliminate the garbage, and offer an approach to improve your life, free from misleading trends, fads, or hyperbole.

Most importably, I’m open to continuously learning new information and techniques, and open to being wrong.

In my work as a coach, when I work with clients I challenge them to be better than their best — but not in ways you might expect. Actions matter, but helping someone get to the core of their truth, of what matters most to them, helps them undersatnd the need to take risks in a whole new light.

What makes you feel weird and awkward inside?

Have you ever had that odd physical response in your body when you had an A-ha moment, or a glimmer of your own truth? As an awareness it’s a feeling that you ‘already knew’, but had never ‘felt’ so powerfully until that moment?

Some people sense this feeling physically as a pressure in their head, but not quite a headache. Others feel it in their stomach; ‘a gut feeling’.

When I experience these A-ha moments, I feel it in my solar plexus. It’s that space in the middle of your chest, the indentation below the middle of your ribs. It feels like an energy fog dispersing inside of my lungs — almost like an inspiration of aspiration. It feels like a shortness of breath, like when you inhale quickly from a sudden shock or scare. As I settle into the sensation it moves up to the underside of my ribs and ‘opens me up’ to the new state of awareness. It feels a bit uncomfortable but perfectly right at that moment.


You can change in an instant, but you need to want to make that change, risks, discomfort and all.

There are more books and programs about personal growth and goal achievement than I can count. When you discover why you want what you want — the “why” that goes beyond the surface — beyond what everyone else wants (or thinks that you should want), that’s when you begin to Live OUT the best of who you are.

When you clear your path of obstacles, getting what you want becomes as usual as breathing.

If you’re seeking clarity — a path out of what’s holding you back or blocking your, a clear understanding of what drives you, why you want what you want, and a method to stay on track and get what you want, let’s talk.


Discover how to get crystal clear on the reasons for your biggest challenges or problems. Book a deep dive discovery call with Darren.

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Darren Stehle

Written by

🏳️‍🌈 The Living OUT Coach. Hear Queer Thought Leadership on The Living OUT Podcast. Editor of Th-Ink Queerly | https://darrenstehle.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +469K people. Follow to join our community.