So, the man whose likeness graces the hundred dollar bill is quoted saying, “Those things that hurt instruct”. A big sarcastic “thank you” to Ben Franklin for pointing out that the very thing I’ve worked so hard to avoid (pain) is the very thing that will keep me growing.That pain isn’t masochistic, nor it is necessarily physical or violent. In the day to day it’s most often the pain of mental and emotional effort, the pain of discomfort and trudging through fear.
I’ve been reading The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower–and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward by Phil Shultz and Barry Michels. So far, it’s a good read. Here are a few quotes from what I’ve read:
“The comfort zone is supposed to keep your life safe, but what it really does is keep your life small.”
“Inner strength only comes to those who move forward in the face of adversity.”
“If there’s a key to influencing the future, it’s bold action.”
“The more pain you can tolerate the more you can learn.”
“Necessary pain is the kind you must go through to achieve your goals.”
I’m also reading Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. The Heaths do an exceptional job describing the battle between our rationality and emotionality. They suggest that our rational side looks at the entirety and grandeur of a problem and attempts to put together a solution for the entire problem at once. In doing so, we lose our emotional connection to the task. It seems too daunting and our emotional side rebels against the idea and will often shut down. Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed in paralysis in the midst of needed change? I have. In fact, I do right now. This is going to be a busy summer. My wife and I are going to Europe for two weeks (awesome!), managing some medical issues (less awesome, but great to get out of the way), we’re moving to Colorado (awesome!), planning all the logistics and finances of that move. My head is full of questions, weighing scenarios trying to come up with answers. I’m looking at it from far to distant of a perspective. It’s too overwhelming to figure it all out at once. It’s paralysis by analysis. And it’s painful. But, by breaking it into smaller chunks and realizing how much we’ve already accomplished for our transition I can get my emotions in line to help drive me through the remaining steps we have to take. And those small steps add up to a history of success that makes for a solid foundation on which to build forward.
What one small step can I take today to move forward through adversity?
What bold action must I step into?
What pain must I lean into right now to move toward achieving my goals?
So, maybe Ben Franklin is on to something. Maybe those instances when I feel resistance instruct me of opportunity to overcome. Maybe the pain of mistakes instructs me to chart a different course next time. Maybe the difficulty of working through adversity instructs me to lead, make a difference and make a ruckus. And maybe, by living through adverse circumstances, I begin to make a habit of pursuing the things that instruct me to grow, to pursue the things that are difficult and take me to the edge of my capacity.
*(Note: I’ve now read beyond the first chapter in The Tools and it gets a little weird. The first chapter is solid and offers many valuable thoughts)