Mission Six – Deliberate Discomfort Challenge- Day One – WHY?

I have a feeling I am going to be asking myself this question a good bit over the next few months but here’s the skinny… I am developing a course about Personalized Learning Networks and, true to my form, I have managed to open a pandora’s box through both my research and reflection about what a PLN really is and how many forms it can take. Oh – and now I have added “DOING” networks to the mix. This Challenge (#DDChallenge) is about me joining a learning network focussed on doing something way outside of what I have felt like I belong in or would even be comfortable with. But – I am 48 and I already feel Rigor mortis setting in so it is important to me to face the physical challenge of stepping up to a new plateau. However, this experience encompasses so much more than that for me.

( An Aside – Bodo Hoenen has already come up with a fascinating demonstration of learning networks that transform into doing networks – very close to what I am trying to achieve with the practicum that I have outlined… thus helping me along with my conceptualization. He is a key figure in my PLN. )

When it comes to collaboration for the purpose of “doing” (creating, inventing, etc) especially – the thick of the matter is that inclusion is not a theoretical framework, and ‘belonging’ needs to be inter and intra “tribal” as Seth Godin popularized the term.

And, as I have come to realize, ‘relating’ in a way that allows one’s self to feel ‘belonging’ is a muscle that needs to be exercised by interacting with all kinds of people – even when it makes you uncomfortable. And let me tell you, I would have never survived the military.

I work at a University that serves a large military population. Many of my colleagues are from the military. It is not easy for me to relate to them and this will help.

I live in a community filled with people who have lost family, friends, homes, been severely burnt, and lost limbs getting caught in these local wildfires. To me, the trauma is not dissimilar described in the Deliberate Discomfort book and I need to understand it better.

So why not enter a challenge developed by Navy Seals? Seems sensible.

I also recognize that experiences, challenges, and losses in my life have left me with symptoms of PTSD… or at least triggers that have caused me to shrink. And I am not okay with that. Here I am developing this framework for people to follow to develop their own {inclusive} learning networks {of belonging} to help them grow, contribute, and be able to help foster positive change at home, work, and within their communities and I myself have been trying my best to be invisible or, worse, disassociative.

Working through the preliminary materials for the DDChallenge has already shifted my perspective on what I really want to emphasize about the purpose of the framework.

TO bring it then full circle, The Mission Six Deliberate Discomfort Challenge introduced yet another concept that has shifted my perspective on what PLN or, simply, a Learning/Doing Network means to me at a deeper level and WHY it is so much more than a Professional Network. In the text, I have been introduced to the “Self-Determination Theory” [Refs 1&2 below] which, to me, sounds much like “self-directed learning” which we talk so much about in instructional design. But it is sooooo much more than that.

These SDT factors deepen the “WHY” of developing a PLN for me (which I am now thinking of coining a PLDN or simply LDN.). Here is the excerpt:

  • Autonomy ——- self-directed learning
  • Competence —–feeling of mastery and growth
  • Relatedness ——meaningful connection with others.
  • The story:Steve’s experience in the crashing surf at BUD/S highlights how leaders can improve individual motivation and team performance by supporting those three basic human psychological needs. In the moment he looks up and decides to engage in the task in a different way, he enables others to do the same and helps the team see that they also have some choice in their actions—autonomy. In focusing on his teammates and shouting words of encouragement, he helps his teammates believe that they can master and succeed at an immensely challenging task—competence. In recognizing that his teammates are suffering as well, some worse than he, and choosing to face and move toward their pain,he develops meaningful connection with and among his teammates through a deep sense of empathy—relatedness.” (Van Camp, J, 2020, pg. 52-53 from PDF)

The development of a PLN, LDN or whatever is autonomous… much more so than in some of the military-based stories in the Deliberate Discomfort book… UNTIL you factor in meaningful connection with others… then, ‘your choice’, is influenced by, ‘how is this affecting/helping others on their way to mastery and growth. Life-long learning.


  1. 1. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Self-determination theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (pp. 416–436). Sage Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446249215.n21. Retrieved from https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2011-21800-020

2. Slemp, G.R., Kern, M.L., Patrick, K.J. et al. Leader autonomy support in the workplace: A meta-analytic review. Motiv Emot 42, 706–724 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-018-9698-y. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11031-018-9698-y

3. Van Camp, Jason B. A. (2020). Deliberate Discomfort: How U.S. Special Operations Forces Overcome Fear and Dare to Win by Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable. Ballast Books

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