Well, that’s not a blog post title that anyone wants to read first thing in the morning. But it’s also kinda true – sorry, ladies. Getting to where you want to be in life – be it business or something else – involves a lot of pain.
But why is this?
Well, it usually comes down to two things:
- Giving something that we want
- Pushing yourself harder than your body and mind wants
Being successful in business, for instance, might involve giving up on the idea of having a family or free weekends. Or it could mean pursuing an idea that denies you the opportunity to do something else that you’d like to do with your time.
But it’s not just the business realm that teaches us about suffering. It also affects other aspects of our lives. To be successful in relationships, for instance, often requires suffering. And the same is true of being successful in matters of health. We often need to do things, like exercise, that don’t feel great at the time.
To really be successful, we need to be able to go into life with the confidence that suffering isn’t going to overwhelm us. We need to know that no matter what challenges we face, we’re going to be okay in the end. That’s the sort of confidence that drives the most successful people forward in everything that they do.
Of course, to get to that state of mind, we need to adopt strategies. Things like creating memorials when somebody we love dies or consciously reminding ourselves that suffering will pass can help a great deal. But it also helps to be secure in our own sense of wellbeing. We need to know that other people can’t affect our inner bliss.
Interestingly, when you follow this line of reasoning to its conclusion, you discover that real success in business isn’t actually the money or the prestige that comes after years of hard work. It’s actually having the mental fortitude to go through the process in the first place. Business leaders are perhaps the most successful at all because they are able to find ways to manage their suffering and enjoy their lives at the same time. They can tolerate a high level of pain without allowing it to get to them on a fundamental level.
So what’s the secret to their success? Well, Steve Jobs had a pretty good take on it. He reminded himself every day that his life was limited and that, whatever happened in his work, it would pale in comparison to not existing at all. He reminded himself that, ultimately, nothing that he did mattered except how it felt for him. Creating iPhones had a huge impact on humanity. But, for Jobs, it was mainly about spending his time as well as he could, doing something he loved. If he didn’t like the process and it became clear that something needed to change, he wasn’t afraid of making the hard decisions to make it happen, even if it involved a hefty dose of suffering.