Success Requires Pain

I’m posting this because my tactical, strategy, and doctoral students keep making the same statements to me, i.e., they want this, that, or the other. It is as if by wanting, what they want will materialize – not so!

It is easy to say what you want, but you should ask yourself, “what pain are you willing to endure to get it?” This is not about no pain, no gain; it is about struggle.

People want to be rich without the risk and more importantly, without the sacrifice. In other words, they do not want the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate skills, talents, and wealth. Do you believe that is possible?

Many want a great physique, but are you willing to put hours into the gym, count calories and watch what you eat? This can be painful. You want to be a success, but are you really willing to endure the pain required for it? For example, many greatly desire to have their own business, be it in what ever field of endeavor, but are these same people willing to endure the many excess hours needed to make it succeed, on top of likely, an already existing job and family.

Unless you are willing to spend many hours and endure pain, success will be slow. Think not about what you want, but the pain and discomfort you are willing to endure to have it. As an example, I have many skills, one of them is a 9th degree black belt in Kenpo Karate. To get there, I have logged almost 18,000 hours of instruction time to lower-ranked students. Learning skills and other things via video, ass-mosis, or other methods are generally a poor substitute for hands-on endurance and the pain required to do the work. I have 4, technical college degrees that took a lot of pain to acquire and, I still work about 18-20 hours each day. How much pain have I been willing to endure. I do not know for I have not yet reached my limit!

Let us look at perhaps a better example that will drive the point home. Legendary actor John Houseman, who spent more than half a century in the theater as an influential producer and director did not achieve fame until, at the age of 71, he portrayed a crusty law school professor in the film ”The Paper Chase” and its subsequent television series. Professor Kingsfield, the role he played in ”The Paper Chase,” led to another well-known part, that of a haughty spokesman for the Smith-Barney brokerage house (purchased by Morgan Stanley in 2013) in its television commercials, delivering the lines: ”They make money the old-fashioned way. They earn it.”

Thus, you can win the lotto, inherit wealth from a wealthy relative, or perhaps rob a bank or gain wealth nefariously in other ways but, for most, you will need to forge your path the old-fashioned way – earn it – by working hard and more specifically enduring the pain for that which you want to achieve.

Whether you wish to be an entrepreneur, successful business person, author, etc., means that unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and potentially working insane hours on something you have no idea will be successful or not then, you are not willing to endure the pain. Consequently, your success will be minimized.

Therefore, if you want that amazing job and financial independence you just may need to suffer through 60 to 80-hour work weeks, long commutes, ridiculous paperwork, and on top of that, navigate the arbitrary corporate hierarchy, treading your way between the back stabbers, controllers, and gate keepers and perhaps put up with the confines of an infinite cubicle hell. Success will require enduring the pain that comes with it. Like others, I’ve been there and done that.

Or, maybe you want a great friendship or relationship. If you do, you will attract an amazing person or friend without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, the pain of truth, and staring blankly at a phone that may never ring. It is part of the process.

In summary, who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for – the pain you are willing to endure, not the wants. After all, wanting requires some effort to get. Those who enjoy the struggles and labor of working out are the ones who get in good shape. Those who enjoy long workweeks or the politics of  corporate bureaucracies are those who climb that ladder. And, people who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving-artist lifestyle, ultimately are the ones who can live it and make it.

It is not about want, it is truly about the pain you are willing to endure to get what you want! In the end, your struggles will determine your successes. Choose your struggles wisely.