TED-Bill Eckstrom- Why comfort will ruin your life

Kris notes


kris notes

I have watched this TED talk twice so far. I will more times in the future as the presentation and information is just WOW.

Gentleman proceeds to tell us a story of how his life changed for the better when he got fired from his good job. While this even in his life created the greatest amount of discomfort, it was the discomfort, the departure from his ORDERED life that forever changed his situation for the better.

What makes you comfortable, can ruin you, and what makes you uncomfortable is the only way to grow. Only in a state of discomfort can you continuously grow.

It’s only normal to stay in a state of comfort as we are generally programmed to do so. It’s not like he knew when he got fired that this event in his life would change his life for the better in the long run.

Him and a few partners had an epiphany, on how to illustrate and apply the science of discomfort and growth. They call the concept the GROWTH RINGS. The growth rings represent living environments that promote, or hinder growth. That includes everything from your place of work to even a fishbowl.

What dictates the size of goldfish, is its environment. While this goldfish lives in a very SAFE and comfortable environment, its also very limiting in every way. When placed in a more robust environment, like a small pond, it can thrive, and grow to a far larger size. It also means it could be eaten. This is us. The environments in which you work, live, and play they are all a proverbial fish bowl that can hinder your growth.


  1. Stagnation– low performing, low growth environment. Following steps, permission. Stifles independent activity, thought, and action. State and local governments.
  2. Chaos– Also low growth, low performing. We see chaos in business mergers, natural disasters, and horrific events like 9/11. Chaos is having ZERO predictability or CONTROL of inputs and outcomes.
  3. Order– the most desirable environment. Order is knowing that what you do, or what is happening in your environment, leads to a predictable outcome. In predictability, COMFORT is found. COMFORT is also what makes order so dangerous. Science shows that anytime you continuously do something or think something, you’ll eventually stop growing. Growth only occurs in a state of discomfort.
  4. Complexity– When you feel discomfort hit, that’s when you have entered the complexity ring. Complexity is nothing more than changed order. But when you order is changed, outcomes are no longer predictable, and is unpredictability that makes you uncomfortable. Most times your reaction to discomfort is not just no, but HELL NO, you can actually learn how empowering it is, to consciously acknowledge discomfort, and then when appropriate, choose complexity, over order. I know seeking discomfort sounds odd, and not many people do it, but we have to learn to embrace it, because it is the ONLY environment where sustained, or exponential growth can occur.

To weave high growth complexity into the fabric of our lives, there are 3 primary ways it can be triggered.

  1. Forced upon you. Like getting fired from a job, or being divorced/dumped by bf/gf etc. Complexity is forced upon you. You don’t really have a choice. When this happens, how much you grow is dependent on how you RESPOND to it. You can remain angry, or make excuses, or you can look within yourself and grow, take the risks.
  2. Someone can help you get there- This is the role of parents, teachers, coaches, bosses. Left on their own, people will consciously or subconsciously select the comfort of order. And then they need to be pushed into complexity in order to continue growing. In complexity, this is where critical developmental decisions are made. Discomfort causes growth. Okay… so what if you are not lucky enough to live/work or reside in a robust high growth environment, what if you are stuck in order, or even worse, stagnation? Well, the great news is EVERYONE CAN TRIGGER COMPLEXITY AT ANY TIME.

3. Trigger it yourself- Now he talks about going back to Montgomery Alabama in the 50’s. Claudette Colvin refusing to go to the back of the bus triggered. By law she was supposed to move to the back, and refused. You see, Montgomery had a ORDER in place, that when FOLLOWED, let to a very PREDICTABLE outcome. Repression of people, with little conflict. Claudette was fed up. She decided she didn’t like Montgomery’s order, and by refusing to give up her seat, she sent our communities, and laws and our entire country into COMPLEXITY. 9 months before Rosa Parks made the famous decision to not move. Prime example of triggering complexity instead of comfort/order. The IMPACT that can occur from such choices/actions.

“The constant façade of order hides the wilderness that is craving to seep out and teach us that life wasn’t created to be what we think it is…..we must experience the wilderness to be taught what cannot be otherwise known.”

It’s not the discomfort, its order you should fear the most. Comfort and order is a threat.

It’s not the complexity triggering individuals or events you should fear the most, but its your own willingness to accept or seek discomfort that will dictate the growth of not just you, but our entire world.

Author: Kris

Hi my name is Kris, and I am addicted to personal development, and the word DETERMINATION! :) and BRENÉ BROWN!!! And BRIAN JOHNSON!!! Aaaaaaaand WOOOO!!!! 142.

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