Friction is Inevitable: How to use it to Strengthen your Character and your Company

Ryan McGrath
Nov 17, 2022
min read
Friction is Inevitable: How to use it to Strengthen your Character and your Company

When life is easy; when our finances are favorable; when our career is thriving; and when our relationships are peaceful, we aren’t fundamentally challenged. We don’t need to be brave, resilient, or patient during these times. In other words, we don’t need to push ourselves to grow—we’re complacent, or as some would even argue, we’re thriving. But life is unpredictable and everchanging. Fundamentally, I think we all recognize that these highs, so to speak, are not permanent. The simple adage: What goes up, must come down holds some profundity after all.

There is, however, a silver lining to this. It is only through difficult times that our character is really put to the test. From there, we all have a decision to make. How will we respond to the hardship life hurls our way? We can choose to rise up and grow through the obstacles. Or, alternatively, we can succumb to the challenges, and perhaps even become cynical as a result. How we respond to difficulties—in both business and life—ultimately defines who we are and who we’ll become.

Here are 3 ways to harness the power of friction for both yourself and your business.

Foster a culture of resilience and authenticity

At my company, Asset Living, two of our core values are honesty and drive, both of which I believe connect to this idea of adversity and resilience. At times, being transparent or telling the truth can be hard, and even lead to some friction. That being said, tough conversations are critical for progress, particularly as a leader.

For example, as managers, it’s our responsibility to provide candid feedback. I’ll be the first to admit that this can be difficult, but it’s absolutely necessary for success at scale. Similarly, receiving feedback, even as a C-suite executive, can be challenging. Although it can cause moments of uneasiness or self-doubt, undergoing honest performance evaluations is crucial to the success of your business, at all levels of seniority.

Cultivate diverse perspectives and thoughts

If your friends, peers, and colleagues all share identical beliefs and perspectives, groupthink will likely run rampant. A company that’s homogenous in this way will struggle to succeed. The organizations that scale for greatness know how to thoughtfully disagree, have difficult conversations, and ultimately identify the best solutions, innovations, and products. Teams that aren’t able to disagree in a productive manner will remain stagnant, and the organization as a whole may suffer. Direct reports, mid-level managers, and C-suite officers that are excessively combative or conflict-avoidant are particularly dangerous for this reason.

Become comfortable saying no and facing rejection

In a world driven by “yes,” saying no comes with its own set of unique benefits. It’s natural to avoid causing conflict, particularly in professional settings, and one of the easiest ways to do so is by refraining from simply saying “no.” As a leader, however, you must become comfortable with both giving and receiving a rejection.

Tactical examples of this include being intentional about who you employ, partner with, and ultimately serve as a company. This will allow you to remain competitive and create a clear and unique customer value proposition for your business. While saying no to certain partners or candidates may create moments of uneasiness or friction, it will allow you to circumvent future failures.

The next time you’re faced with an uncomfortable conversation, a moment of conflict, or simply failure, remember that growth is on the horizon.

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