Discomfort makes us Grow


Marko Sliskovic

Publishing Date

13. 08. 2020.

Reading duration



Business Culture

The only way to truly Grow

While listening to some podcast last week, I came across the concept of “Growth Rings” which illustrates and applies the science of discomfort & growth. Growth Rings represent living environments that promote or hinder growth which includes everything from your place of work to even – fishbowl. What dictates the size of goldfish is its environment. While this goldfish lives in a very safe environment, it’s also limited in almost every way, but when placed in a more robust environment, like a small pond, it can grow up to 5x bigger.

Now, it also means it could be eaten.

The same can be applied to us – the environments in which we work, live, and play are all proverbial fishbowls that dictate our growth.


4 Growth Rings

The First Growth Ring represents a low – performing, low – growth environment called Stagnation. It’s understood by having to follow too many steps, permissions, or minutiae, which stifles creativity, independent thought, and action. To imagine a state like this is quite easy – our Federal Governments.

Contradictory to Stagnation is Chaos – also low – growth, low – performing, & the second Growth Ring.
Chaos can be caused by internal or external events or conditions, such as business mergers or natural disasters. Chaos means having zero predictability or control over inputs and outcomes.

Next to Stagnation is the most desirable environment – Order. Order is knowing that which you do, or what is happening in our environment, leads to a predictable outcome. And in predictability – comfort is found.
But comfort is also what makes order so dangerous.

Science shows that anytime we continually do something, or even think about something in the same way, we’ll eventually stop growing – so before our order continues to limit us in the way we think and act. There was this quote I’ve stumbled upon that’s perfectly applicable in this context – “Growth only occurs in the state of discomfort”.

When we feel discomfort hit, that means we’ve entered the fourth and final ring – the Complexity ring.
Complexity is nothing more than changed order, but when our order is changed, outcomes are no longer predictable and that’s exactly what makes us uncomfortable. It’s actually quite empowering to consciously acknowledge discomfort and then, when appropriate, choose complexity over order.

Seeking discomfort sounds odd, and not many people do it, but at the same time, it’s the only environment where sustained and exponential growth can occur.

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


3 ways to trigger complexity

Number 1 – it’s forced upon you. When we get fired, we do not have the chance to stay in order, complexity is selected for us. When this happens, how much we grow depends on how we respond to it. We could remain angry or use it as an excuse or we could accept that we suck as employees, and we’re much better off accepting the risks of running our own company.

Complexity trigger number 2 – somebody can help you get there. This is the role of parents, teachers, coaches, and bosses. When left on their own, people will consciously or subconsciously select the comfort of order, after which they need to be pushed in complexity in order to continue growing.

Now, what about those people that aren’t lucky enough to work or live in robust environments and are stuck in order or even worse, stagnation? That brings us to complexity trigger number 3 – trigger it yourself. One of the greatest examples of this would be slavery abolishment – when the actions of a very few people that decided to step out of the order resulted in sending communities, laws, and entire countries into complexity.

Order – disrupting people like Jesus, Galileo, Malcolm X, and many others have already proven that it’s not complexity-triggering individuals or events we should fear the most, but it’s our own willingness to accept or seek discomfort that will dictate the growth of not just us, but the entire world.

Marko Sliskovic

Co-Founder and Managing Partner

Marko has over 5 years of experience in lead generation and appointment setting across multiple industries, currently acting as a managing partner in a business development agency SkyBox.

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