Kai Greene on Using Discomfort as a Guide

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3 min read

Kai Greene, one of my favorite bodybuilders, has a series on YouTube called “Train With Kai” where he invites fans to work out with him. In one video I watched recently, the fan had just finished up a set of bicep curls when Kai stepped in (3:40 – 5:20) to explain the mistake of lifting heavy weights with poor form.

Kai explained how lifting lighter weights with proper form leads to more muscle growth because you have greater control over your range of motion, allowing you to stimulate the muscle more by stretching and contracting more effectively.

In reference to lifting heavy weights with poor form, Kai says “This stuff will feel good, but it’s not gonna benefit you.”

He goes on to share, “If this is the form you use, you won’t even begin to tap into the true development you could see.”

This bodybuilding philosophy is somewhat counter-intuitive: to developer larger muscles, you should lift lighter weights. The reason this works, though, is because you can experience a deeper burn when you lift lighter weights, since you’re more in control of the motion. That burn leads to muscle growth.

In essence, discomfort leads to growth. 

This simple idea applies to many fields outside of bodybuilding. Discomfort is a wonderful guide that shows us where to spend our time and energy in order to grow.

Blogging Discomfort: Sit & Write

If you want to know the “secret” behind creating a successful blog, use discomfort as a guide. It’s much harder to publish one article per day than it is to publish one per month and buy Facebook ads to promote your blog.

The results of these two approaches couldn’t be more different, though.

When you consistently publish well-written articles, your blog traffic grows organically. People naturally come back to your site often to see what you’ve written and share it with their friends. 

Conversely, Facebook ads may lead to short-term growth, but they rarely help to build a loyal readership. Sure, short-term growth might feel good, but ultimately you won’t get the results you’re after in the long-term. The only way to do that is to embrace the initial discomfort of developing a daily writing habit.

Salary Discomfort: Embrace Negotiation

I once read (can’t remember where it came from) that “Your growth is dependent on how many uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have.” This idea applies particularly well to salary negotiations. 

Recently I converted from a contractor to a full-time employee at my job. The initial offer I received was a $70,000 salary with two weeks of paid vacation. After a few uncomfortable conversations, I ended up negotiating my way to an $80,000 salary with three weeks of paid vacation. 

I’m not a pro at negotiating and I certainly felt awkward during the process, but through embracing that discomfort I was able to land a higher salary with additional vacation time. 

Related: One of the best articles I have read on salary negotiations is this one from The Luxe Strategist

Side Hustle Discomfort: Charge What You’re Worth

When I first started tutoring people in statistics, I was terrified of charging too much money. In fact, I offered the first tutoring session for free to my first client. After that, I only charged them $20 per hour.

It wasn’t until I started landing more clients that I learned that my rates were way too low. Now I typically charge $40 – $45 per hour.

I won’t lie, asking for what you’re worth when you start a side hustle can be intimidating and uncomfortable. But this discomfort begins to fade away as you work with more people and begin to understand your market value.

I believe it was La Papillion from BULLy the BEAR who once told me something like, “If too many people agree to your price too quickly, you’re not charging enough.”

Use Discomfort as a Guide

Whether you want to develop larger muscles, create a successful blog, land a higher salary, or earn a higher income through side hustles, let discomfort be your guide. The things that make you most uncomfortable are often the things that lead to the most growth. Become more sensitive to noticing discomfort and learn to embrace it. 


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6 Replies to “Kai Greene on Using Discomfort as a Guide”

  1. Hi Zach,

    Hahaha, you still remembered what I said 🙂

    Talking about discomfort, I’m teaching a new engineering math module that deals with all the demons I faced as a undergrad in my university days – Laplace transformation and Fourier series. It’s so easy to say I can’t do it, but I accepted discomfort and took up the challenge. And I’m glad I took up the challenge 🙂

    1. It’s a phrase that has stuck with me and served me well 🙂 And congrats on taking up that new challenge, as they say “the best way to learn is to teach.” Best of luck with the course, it certainly sounds like it could come with some discomfort haha

  2. Interesting links you create between bodybuilding and the rest. Stepping outside your comfort zone is key to growth in every aspect of your life. Be it changing up your workout or stepping up to the plate in the office when something new comes a long.

    Thanks for reminding me of this 🙂

  3. Nice idea! The same could be said for growing in a career. If you’re not a little unfomfortable, you’re probably not challenging yourself. I have gone overboard in this and challenged myself too much at times, but I’d much rather do that than live in complacency.

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