Our community is all about running a business from our values. Rather than “values,” we use the term Source Commitments. Your Source Commitments are exactly what they sound like: the things you’re committed to at the core of your being, no matter what. They’re the values that have to be present in order to make running a business worth it.
While we believe this is absolutely the most gratifying and impactful way to run a business, we also know it means we’ll confront some uncomfortable situations. When that happens we have to make a choice: Are we committed to our values or are we committed to being comfortable?
Why We Choose Comfort
As a woman, I’ve been conditioned to not make waves, rock the boat, call things out. I’ve been taught that my role is to be obedient and make others feel comfortable. That’s held me back my whole life.
As a business strategist with Kite + Dart, I’m committed to something larger. I’m committed to empowering impact-driven entrepreneurs to run the business they want and make a difference in the world. I’m committed that they get to be who they really are and make money doing it. When it comes down to it, I choose those commitments over keeping others—and myself—comfortable.
I’ve seen this show up as I’ve made and held boundaries for myself. It’s prompted some very uncomfortable conversations as I’ve had to tell people “no.” But because I’m committed to my larger goals, I need to take care of myself in order to achieve them, and in order to take care of myself, I need to keep those boundaries. It’s worth it—I choose commitment over comfort.
It’s not about accepting discomfort for the sake of discomfort. Rather, it’s about steering yourself towards the larger goal of your commitments and being willing to accept some level of discomfort in pursuit of that.
I’ve also seen this come up in sales calls. At the end of a sales call, people would frequently say “I need to think about it,” and I’d let that go. Nate called me out on this and asked me what would happen if I leaned into it.
It’s not about pushy sales tactics, it’s about taking a stand for their business succeeding. If I’m committed to their business succeeding and Kite + Dart making a difference for them, instead of letting that go, I need to get curious. I need to ask, “Where’s the hesitation coming from? What’s really going on for you?” Sometimes this allows me to uncover some deeper doubts they have about their business or about our community. Sometimes it reveals that we’re not the right people for them to work with. All of that is completely fine. Because I got curious, it’s out in the open and they can now make a decision from a more informed place. Even if they decide not to work with us, I’ve made a contribution for them. That’s what I was committed to all along.
The idea of choosing commitment over comfort is especially relevant when it comes to DEIJ work. Calling someone out for saying something racist is uncomfortable. It’s also necessary for increasing awareness and creating the equitable world we envision. BIPOC folx are uncomfortable all the time because of the skin they live in; they don’t get a choice. White people can opt out of that, but if I’m committed to anti-racism and equity, I have to be willing to step out of comfort to pursue that goal.
If I’m not willing to do that, am I really taking a stand? Am I really being committed to the difference I want to make? When it comes to DEIJ work, we have to hold onto our commitment despite outcomes. This brings up a key distinction between commitment and attachment.
Commitment vs Attachment
When we’re attached to an outcome, we marry our self-worth to that outcome being reached. It feels like there’s an end point at which we have to arrive. Then if we don’t reach that point, we make ourselves wrong for not getting there—we go into breakdown.
Being committed to an outcome is more of a journey. We tell ourselves we’ll do whatever it takes to work towards this goal whether or not we see it happen. Being committed to something leaves us in constant inquiry around what to do next. It makes the work more about a larger goal than about our specific role in it—it leads to discernment rather than breakdown.
Racial equity is a perfect example. I’m committed to a truly just world, but I know it’s not going to happen in my lifetime. Because I’m committed to this change, I ask myself every day what I’m going to do to work towards it.
Deconditioning the Desire for Comfort
There’s a lot of deconditioning we need to do in order to choose commitment over comfort. The powers that be don’t want us stepping out of line or making waves, so we’ve been conditioned from a young age to hide in our desire for comfort over growth, questioning, or confrontation.
With a background in education, I was complicit in this. It’s something I’ve had to grapple with.
I told kids, “It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s the only way to learn.” “Step out of your comfort zone.” “Be unique.” But at the same time, what do we want everyone to do? Get the right answer. Earn the A. Do it right. It breaks my heart that I was complicit in that.
Wrapped up in those ideas is perfectionism and fear of failure, and maybe most importantly, self-doubt. It’s part of the mechanism that keeps injustice going.
Plus, the more you look like the dominant culture, the more comfortable you’ll be saying what you believe because you’ve been told all along that you’re right. Your opinion is already more valued and seen as valid, so you have more ability to call things into question. The further you get from that dominant persona, the more you’re already feeling discomfort. You’re doing what you can just to fall in line.
Choosing Commitment Over Comfort in Your Business
In order to commit to impact over comfort in our businesses, we need to first understand the role of oppression. Rather than blaming ourselves and going into breakdown, we need to realize that the preference for comfort and the avoidance of confrontation is something that has been indoctrinated into us. It’s not something you chose; it’s not a character flaw.
When I did this, it emboldened me to make the changes I wanted to see in the world. It’s made me hold up a middle finger at the oppressive systems and do whatever I can do to break them down.
Once you have that understanding, get clarity around your commitments and make sure they’re central to everything you do. The first course in our Entrepreneurial Activism Certification program, Get Clear, is focused on helping you identify your Source Commitments. Once you know those, you can build your business around making an impact in your unique way. Then your question becomes, “Am I committed to being comfortable or am I committed to making my business work?” And because your business is motivated by impact, the question is really, “Am I committed to being comfortable or am I committed to making a difference?”
I love being a business owner in the Kite + Dart community because I’m surrounded by people who are constantly reminding me of my commitments and holding me accountable. We remind each other every day of what’s possible when we each live by our values. We call each other out (lovingly) all the time so we can continue working towards them.
Even with these larger commitments, it’s still easy to be too hard on ourselves. I think it’s important to remember if we wait until we’re doing it perfectly, we’re not going to get anywhere. Part of the discomfort we’re agreeing to is the discomfort of making mistakes and being wrong.
If you want to distinguish your commitments and stop choosing comfort, check out the free events we host every month. Our Entrepreneurial Activism Certification program guides you through all of these inquiries and many, many more. Learn all about it here.
Written in partnership with Ali Weeks of Moxie Writing Co.