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Valuing Discomfort

Many world-class performers tell stories of discomfort, rejection and failure at some point in their past. Is this coincidence? Or do these uncomfortable experiences lay the foundation for long-term development and, ultimately, success. PDP Lead Researcher, James Vaughan discusses the importance of discomfort on the learning journey.


American scholars such as Brene Brown and Robert Horner (researchers into education, development and vulnerability) have led us to the following question: if curiosity marks the start of the learning process and vulnerability is the birthplace of creative connection, is discomfort a catalyst for development?

Development can be defined as durable changes resulting from a combination of experience, learning and maturation.

In terms of world-class athletes, painful experiences may have (subconsciously) challenged them to question their development journey – what they do and why they do it – renew their dedication and re-assess their mindset. Consider some real-life examples such as West Ham left-back Aaron Cresswell. On the books at Liverpool until the age of 15, he was then released by manager Gerard Houllier and signed for Tranmere Rovers – a time he refers to as “heartbreaking”....

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