How to get ahead? Don't be a wimp
(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY One thing, more than any other, may be holding you back. It's not your education, who you know, or even how much time you have. It's fear of pain.
The bad news is that the challenge you face is yourself. Of course, this is also the good news. It's not the economy, your mistakes from the past, bad childhood, or anything else. The problem is within you, and so is the solution. Your ability to deal with the fear of pain effectively is your golden ticket to your best life, job promotions, health, and better relationships.
If you are successful at avoiding pain, you are, ironically perhaps, a loser. There really is no way around this. The old exercise adage is true: "No pain, no gain!" Are there are countless examples of people who experience no pain but who have succeeded in an area of their life? Absolutely! They're in the zone. They love what they do and are masterful at it. Does this mean they never experienced pain in order to get to this point? Think about Olympic athletes. They are graceful, poised, and appear to perform with pleasure and ease. But think of the pain and sacrifice they experienced to get to this point.
I'm sure you've heard the story of the little girl who witnessed a master pianist perform at Carnegie Hall. After the performance, which had the whole crowd on their feet cheering, the little girl went backstage and enthusiastically told the pianist, "I'd give my life to play like that!" The pianist smiled and said carefully, "I did, my child. I did."
Pain, is, well, painful. But it is often short-lived. What typically happens is we'll trade the relief from short-term pain for long-term pain. We'll use the escalator to avoid the immediate pain of taking the stairs, but in doing so will sacrifice longevity and vitality in the future.
Think of an area of your life -- there is at least one -- where you want to make more progress. Maybe it's your health. You're overweight and have no energy. Getting up an hour earlier to walk and drink a kale smoothie is hard. Don't kid yourself. I don't care how much you focus on the wonderful long-term benefits, this is painful. In order to be healthy, you must experience some pain and some sacrifice. If you are unwilling to experience the pain, you will not succeed.
The same holds true for mental pain. If you want to double your sales or get a promotion, there will be things you will be faced with that will cause pain. Maybe you need to make more sales calls, travel more, speak publicly, work later, come in earlier, or otherwise push yourself beyond what seems safe and comfortable.
Try this little experiment. Think of an area of your life that you want to see massive progress. Focus on the fear. What is the source of the pain you are trying to avoid? This is probably a good place to direct your efforts because the thing we are afraid of doing most is usually the thing that will give us the greatest result.
If you're not in pain, struggling, or being challenged on a regular basis, then you are leaving too much on the table. You are selling yourself short. The greatest fallacy is that success should be easy. It's not. Success takes sacrifice. Welcome the pain in order to welcome the progress.
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