“What we resist persists” as the saying goes, or as the Borg used to say “Resistance is Futile.”

Recently I read a blog on FastCompany by a young woman thought-leader named Amber Rae. I very much enjoyed the article “Why Tweaking Your Career Vocabulary Can Radically Improve Your Life” for it’s simple yet powerful message of transforming our understanding of words, and therefore emotional responses to situations that would typically trouble many of us. For example, she defined fear as “an indication you are heading in the right direction” and anxiety as “experiencing failure in advance.”

At the end of the article she invited readers to post comments with their own words and alternative definitions, and so I got involved and added my little bit of positive spin to the conversation. As I had subscribed to subsequent comment posts, I was surprised at the negative and somewhat demeaning comments that followed, and the awareness that came to me is how much we tend to resist ideas, concepts, and in particular emotions, that cause us to feel uncomfortable.

The world is full of armchair critics and people who are quick to find fault in the creative endeavors of others, without themselves being willing to risk failure and put their creative juices forward. Yet more important I think is how awful some people tend to react to truly inspiring and innovative creativity. It’s as though a chord has been struck in them, a painful uncomfortable place that many, or perhaps most of us, would prefer we never had to go.

Having spent many years working in and for large organizations I’ve found innovation to be a painful slow process precisely for this reason; the avoidance of anything that makes us feel uncomfortable. It’s as if the desire to keep things the same, and therefore emotionally palatable, is greater than the drive to express ourselves in radically new, uplifting, and innovative ways.

To borrow a colloquialism from the fitness world “no pain no gain,” some might disagree feeling that growth doesn’t have to be painful. I would partially agree with that, rather I would say that forward motion requires a willingness to put oneself out there, to try new things, to be willing to fail, and to be willing to fully digest words, concepts, and innovations that make us feel uncomfortable; in other words, to let go of the resistance to that which is dying to get out of us.