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How ‘uncomfortable growth’ can help you take responsibility

By Jack Campbell | |4 minute read
How ‘uncomfortable growth’ can help you take responsibility

Rowena Millward is the author of Uncomfortable Growth and Insights to Enlighten.

“Growth is something that's talked about so much. My background is corporate, and growth is everywhere. Everyone uses the word growth, but it's always used in a positive context. The reality is that growth is hard,” said Ms Millward in conversation with The HR Leader.

“I wanted to recognise that growth is uncomfortable, that it is really difficult, but it's not only about fear and the negatives. It's about managing fear so that you can accept the challenges and learn from challenges, and actually still feel and experience growth. I wanted to find that tension point where it is about growth, but it's not easy. That's where I came up with the idea of ‘uncomfortable growth.’”


Uncomfortable growth is about embracing the discomfort of change and using it to better yourself, according to Ms Millward. However, as our work life shifts from ‘in person’ to remote, the lines of whose responsibility it is to garner this growth has changed.

“Change is uncomfortable, and yet, change is all around us and change is accelerating. The world's just gone through one of the biggest changes globally ever seen with the pandemic."

“Before COVID-19, most people were working in the office and there was an environment that the company had more control over. And so, they actually focused on a lot of company growth initiatives that they were in control of, whether it was development budgets or on-the-job learning.”

“But post-COVID-19, where we've got now this hybrid working model, people are not in the office and I don't think they see the company or the employer as responsible for their growth. This was further ignited, by a lot of people having to side hustle. During COVID-19, when we had nothing to do as we normally would, a lot of people got really entrepreneurial. They started their own business or side hustle or explored different things or took up a hobby."

This newfound independence caused by COVID-19 has seen individuals grow inside and outside of their careers. This response has seen growth become more holistic as we are embracing the change and evolving with it.

“No two people are the same. So, why would we want cookie-cutter approaches at work? We want that diversity to come through because we know from all the research, that drives innovation, that it drives creativity, and basically people are happier as well."

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full conversation with Rowena Millward is below.


Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.