No pain, no gain.
The other week I was discussing the plot of a film entitled “Collateral Beauty” with some friends, and although I didn’t pay too much attention to the detailed plot as I was watching the film there was an interesting truth that seemed to emerge as we discussed our recollections.
“You’ve been given a gift, this profound connection to everything. Just look for it, and I promise you it’s there, the collateral beauty.”
This was the idea that the pain of a tragic loss can reveal a beauty that would otherwise probably have remained hidden. That’s not to say that the loss was in itself a thing of beauty, or that the pain could in any way become less painful, but rather that something of beauty can often be revealed that is only found as a result of the loss.
“I’m in all of it. I’m the darkness and the light, I’m the sunshine and the storm. Yes, you’re right, I was there in her laugh, but I’m also here now in your pain. I’m the reason for everything. I am the only “why.” Don’t try and live without me, Howard. Please don’t.”
~ Collateral Beauty
No pain, no gain. So goes the well known saying, and it usually refers to the refrain used by athletes which says they need to endure pain to achieve professional excellence. From my time as a sports coach, I know that most effective muscular growth occurs during the last one or two repetitions of an exercise. The initial reps are really only there to fatigue the muscles and the last painful reps are the most effective in eliciting growth.
A similar principle seems to be at work in other areas of life too. So often there is a choice between the pleasure of indulgence accompanied with the pain of regret – or the pain of self-discipline which brings the pleasure of achievement. I know this particularly well since I am in the middle of a weight loss program, and my weakness is, well, food! It’s only when I can contain my self-indulgence and substitute it for self-discipline that I see any results.
“Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but in playing a poor hand well.”
~ Warren G Lester
When painful and difficult times come around, and they surely do, it is how we deal with them that makes the difference. When pursuing a prize there is often a pain to be endured, and that is where self-discipline can bring the prize within reach.
Some years ago I was having lunch with the head of the British Nuclear Industry Forum in my capacity as Sales Engineer for an Automation and Control Systems company. We were one of the main suppliers of automation and control systems to the Nuclear Industry in the UK and this was a key contact, and I had just landed an enquiry for one of the largest refurbishment projects at a Nuclear Power Station we had ever tendered for.
When I returned to the office after lunch I was invited for a discussion with the MD to learn that the company had decided to cut back on our work in this sector and that my job was no longer required – I was to be offered my previous job back as a Project Manager, or I could take a voluntary redundancy.
That started a period of intensely challenging times as I had decided that I wanted to move on from the world of Project Management, and I took the painful road towards self-employment with no idea what I might actually do. It would be true to say that I had many many times when I regretted that decision and decided what a reckless fool I had been, to have turned away from a secure position in a company within which I had worked very successfully for over 10 years.
The details of that journey will wait for another blog post, however, the very real pain experienced in setting out on such a new, different and unexpected path was very real at the time and very relevant to this topic.
I am reminded of the story of an acclaimed pianist who was chatting with someone from the audience after a show who remarked: “I would do anything to be able to play like you.” Their response was seething like: “No you wouldn’t; you wouldn’t want to practice for 8 hours every day, 7 days a week for years, and give up everything else just to have the possibility of performing.” So how much do we want our prize? How much are we actually prepared to sacrifice to achieve it?
If we can embrace our prize, embrace the self-discipline to persevere in our pursuit of the prize, then we will have a much greater chance of actually achieving the result.
“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”
~ Virginia Satir
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.