Weather the discomfort of professional growth

Photo/Dennis Sparks

Substantial professional learning requires walking to the edge of our comfort zone and taking a step or two beyond as we experiment with new beliefs, ideas, and behaviors. Our effectiveness may temporarily dip before we fully acquire habits that lead to higher levels of performance. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable during this process, a discomfort that signals that growth is occurring as old habits dissolve and new ones develop.

Henrik Edberg describes it this way:

“I don’t think there is much one can do to avoid discomfort when making a change. Yes, you can lessen the discomfort and you can make it easier for yourself. But trying to avoid it completely is one thing that makes people go running around in circles for magic pills and leaves them stuck with little actual progress to show. That’s why you need to do a reality check. You can’t make much progress or live life fully if you live in fantasy world where everything is supposed to be painless and easy.”

Take a moment now to . . .

• consider ways that members of the school community can support one another as they experience the discomfort of meaningful change.

3 Responses to “Weather the discomfort of professional growth”


  1. 1 Kay Psencik May 21, 2010 at 9:27 am

    There is great pain in failure to achieve goals. The positive energy gained from learning and learning with others in particular builds hope rather than despair.

    • 2 Dennis Sparks May 21, 2010 at 9:35 am

      I agree, Kay. Feeling less than competent in achieving important goals is painful. And learning/teamwork are incredibly important sources of positive energy.

  2. 3 Karen Anderson May 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    So true. And there is mounting evidence to show that coaching is the one intervention that offers the perfect balance of support AND tension to make the desired change!


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