September 30, 2020

122: Growing Through Discomfort with Bill Eckstrom

Discomfort is universally disliked, yet it is essential to growth. Just like a muscle can’t get stronger without the tension of lifting a weight, our skills and capabilities can’t develop without the tension and stress that come from stretching ourselves.

In this episode, I speak with Bill Eckstrom. Bill is the founder and CEO of EcSell Institute, the world’s first and only organization to measure and quantify leadership effectiveness. He is considered one of the world’s top authorities in metric-based performance coaching and growth. His book, The Coaching Effect, coauthored by EcSell Institute president Sarah Wirth, helps leaders at all levels understand the necessity of challenging people out of their comfort zone to create high-growth organizations.

Bill and I talk about the four growth rings, the importance of distinguishing between a performance goal and a growth goal, how growth only happens through the state of discomfort and your role as a manager is supporting your team member through those growth states.

Members of The Modern Manager community get $100 off The Coaching Academy leadership training. In addition, members get the chance to win a free 30-min coaching session with prior guest Todd Palmer to help you get unstuck around crucial or difficult conversations, change, adjusting to the new normal, or whatever is on your mind. You must be a member by October 6th, 2020 for a chance to win the session with Todd. To learn more about membership and to join, go to

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Read the related blog article: How To Create A High-Growth Team By Embracing Discomfort

Key Takeaways

  • The best leaders and coaches are those who can foster a healthy sense of discomfort in the workplace.
  • Discomfort comes from being put in situations with unknown, unpredictable outcomes.
  • The Four Basic Living Environments are Stagnation, Order, Complexity Order, and Chaos.
  • Stagnation is a low performing or negative growth environment.
  • Order is predictable inputs and outcomes
  • Complexity is an unpredictable environment where the inputs are known but the outcomes are unknown
  • Chaos is an environment of little to no control where growth is halted by high turmoil.
  • Our ideal work environment for growth is complexity order.
  • We can put our teams into complexity order environments by pushing them to learn new skills, improve their existing skills, and enabling them to take on new opportunities.
  • We need to educate our teams about the power of discomfort as an opportunity and not a roadblock.
  • The more discomfort we create for our brains, the more change-resilient we become.
  • Support your struggling employee by expressing your confidence in their ability to succeed. When trust exists in the relationship, employees are more likely to embrace their challenges.
  • Managers need to have patience for the process of growth, let go, and let their teams struggle.
  • Too much discomfort in the workplace is not a good thing. We need to put enough structure and support in place so that employees can tolerate times of discomfort and thrive.
  • Assess each employee for what she/he needs at that moment.
  • Our job as managers is not to remove obstacles so that our teams can perform. Our role is to teach our team members how to remove obstacles for themselves.


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