I was 43 on Christmas morning, sick, fat and horribly out of shape. I had reached my tipping point. You could say I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I lost my father to a heart attack at the age of 47 and I knew I had a decision to make, to take action and change my life or to follow dad’s path and become another statistic.

Getting in shape was going to take some time but more importantly it was going to require a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. I didn’t get out of shape overnight and I certainly wasn’t going to be Charles Atlas anytime soon.

While I had no idea how I was going to reclaim my fitness, I knew how my mind worked. Going to the gym every day for the sake of “working out” was not going to cut it. I am goals driven and I knew for my change effort, my quest for peak performance to be effective, I needed a massive goal that required massive action.

Sitting on my couch I tuned into NBC’s coverage of the Ironman World Championships from Kona, HI. 140.6 miles of heat, pain, anguish that shared the love over a swim, bike and run. The pain on the competitor’s faces was intense but the joy on those same faces at the finish line was inspiring. That’s all it took, my quest for fitness would be manifest in training for ultra-long distance events.

Over the course of the next 24-36 months I worked diligently with my coach and completed several marathons, long bike rides and varied Ironman events. As my training escalated, my weight dropped and my fitness grew. I kept pushing for new levels of peak performance and with hard work and determination I got stronger. It was a painful but rewarding process.

I will never forget what my coach told me when we started on this journey together. He said no matter how fit I became, there would always be a level of discomfort because as fitness grew, my ability to push myself harder would also grow. While training would be hard, the long events such as Ironman triathlons and ultra-trail marathons would be painful at best.

Pat then shared with me some of the best advice I have ever heard on driving peak performance, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” Simple but very powerful. It was all about mindset. The pain would always be there but coming to grips with it and enjoying the process, getting stronger while others struggled would be the difference makers. No one ever said achieving peak performance would be easy.

I have found that advice to be true in any aspect of life. Be it on the trails, in the classroom or in the boardroom, getting comfortable being uncomfortable will produce results. For if you truly believe this you will put yourself in challenging and uncomfortable positions and that is where growth comes from.

It’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Driving peak performance

Where do you struggle getting comfortable being uncomfortable?

What are some goals or initiatives where this mindset would move you closer to peak performance?

How can you adopt this mindset to your life?

How can getting comfortable being uncomfortable be an advantage for you?

Chris Vokaty is an executive, endurance athlete and peak performance coach. Chris has a long career in Human Resources, learning, talent development, sales, operations and strategic planning. With a passion for personal development and a healthy lifestyle, Chris has combined his knowledge of business, endurance sports and personal development, providing individual coaching for executives, athletes and students towards peak performance. Chris, his wife Stacie and daughter Elli live in Blythewood, S.C. Visit Chris Vokaty’s website at vokatypeakperformance.com. Email Chris with any questions or comments at chris@vokatypeakperformance.com.