"Embrace the Suck" is a phrase popularized by Chris McCormack, the great Australian triathlete. It means that in the course of training or competing, you're going to hurt, sometimes a lot. The only way you'll get to the finish line at your top level is by not only accepting the fact that you're going to be uncomfortable, but by learning to love your suffering and discomfort because they are making you stronger.
I can relate. As some of you know, I've spent the last year working to get fit and healthy and to run my first triathlon in 25 years. The results have been gratifying: I've lost about 50 pounds and feel the best I've felt in decades. But it hasn't been easy. My day now includes long runs at sunrise, grueling cycling sessions and a diet free of gluten and sugar. Sometimes, it's all been so hard that I didn't think I could continue.
What kept me going was the understanding that's gotten me through most of the important changes in my life: we don't grow when we're comfortable. An easy walk on a treadmill won't get you in shape like a spin class that leaves you gasping for air. Facing uncomfortable truths about your organization may be unnerving, but it will also transform your organization in a way that ignoring those changes won't.
In facing change, high performers get comfortable with the fact that they're going to be uncomfortable. They prepare themselves to understand that when the discomfort comes and they're tempted to run in the other direction (or more frequently, not at all), they can redirect their thinking and say, "Cool, here it is. I got this. This is when champions rise."
Where does your desire for comfort torpedo your highest talents and aspirations?