No one enjoys being in pain. Sure, there are the random outliers who thrive off of constantly subjecting their bodies to extensive stress and turmoil (I’m looking at you David Goggins). But for the rest of us relatively sane individuals, we do our best to actively avoid pain as much as possible. Some examples include not touching the hot stove or staying at least five hundred feet from a wasp nest.
But let’s delve a little deeper into the topic of pain. It doesn’t just have to be physical pain that we avoid, but mental and emotional pain as well. None of us actively enter into a relationship hoping for a breakup, or enjoy stress everyday life brings, especially last year.
But what we fail to realize, is that sometimes pain has a purpose.
A few years ago, I was a car salesman. Not to brag, but I was pretty darn good at it. For some reason, the sales process came naturally to me, and I was able to quickly work my way to the top of the dealership leaderboards.
The only catch though, is that I absolutely hated selling cars.
Every day was a battle to force myself to get out of bed, get ready, and then drive to work for another twelve to fourteen hour day. During this time I was actively working at the dealership seven days a week, and since I was the newest member of the sales team, I was in charge of basically anything the older associates didn’t feel like doing. Running to grab lunch, taking cars to the detail department, and so many other meaningless tasks.
I can honestly say this job was the worst time period of my life, so far. Looking back at the notes I took, I can still feel the anguish and anxiety I got from working this job. It was a daily onslaught of angry managers, even angrier customers, and then having to tell my friends I couldn’t make it out yet again because I had to work late.
Yet, I worked this job longer than any other job I ever had.
Yes, you read that right. I worked at this dealership for almost one and a half years, and yes that includes the weekends. Now you may be confused, because I started this article by talking about how we actively avoid painful situations. So why would I stay in this job I hated.
Simple. The pain I was going through served a purpose.
Long before I started selling brand new Chevy’s, I knew I wanted to be an Entrepreneur. At the time, I had a few small businesses, but there was just something missing. I was selling some products, but not nearly enough to change my life, or increase my income. There were many key skills I lacked, one of which was sales.
I understood the basic concept of sales, but I could never master it with my own products. So one night as I was again looking for another job to apply for, the dealership job popped up. My brain started to fire, and I realized this job would be perfect for someone trying to learn how to sell. It was an entry level job, so was easily able to get an interview and get hired.
But within the first month, I realized I was going to hate this job. Sure, I picked up the methods and tactics quickly. But in order to cement my knowledge, I needed to be in this job as long as I could stand it, and work with the senior sales staff to absorb as much as possible.
So I made the decision to push through, and keep the job to continue learning. That decision is the reason I’m where I am right now. The skills I learned while selling cars were invaluable; I still use many today when talking with potential clients. The same tactics that helped the older associates sell cars, are now helping me sell websites and brand strategies.
But let’s imagine a world where I had given up. I realized the job was going to suck, so I quit within a month. I probably would have picked up another retail job, and be nowhere near the goals I’ve set for myself. Sure, going back to a more comfortable, boring job is the easy way out, but you never accomplish anything by doing that.
Most things worth doing in life have some form of pain associated with them. From simple pains such as getting up thirty minutes earlier to work out, to extraneous pain like quitting your job and moving to California to pursue your dreams. We have to realize that life isn’t rainbows and unicorns; Just because we’re chasing our dreams and what we want to do, doesn’t mean it will be pain free.
It’s important to understand the concept of purposeful pain though. Does the pain you’re going through serve a purpose? If it does, then odds are you’re onto something.
The flip side of that though, is pain without a purpose. Going through pain without a purpose is like randomly slamming your hand onto a hot grill. There’s no purpose behind it, so there is nothing to gain from it except a burnt hand. Working a job that has nothing to do with your aspirations in life is another example.
A few weeks ago, I had someone mention to me that “If you’re feeling frustrated by something, then odds are you’re going in the right direction.” It caught me off guard, because usually when we feel frustrated we think we’re doing something wrong, or we need to give up and try something new because obviously this isn’t working.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. Last week I was immensely frustrated with a project, to the point I was ready to take my computer into my backyard and light it on fire. During the moment, all I felt was pain and frustration. But reflecting back on it, the pain served a purpose. Firstly, the work I did allowed me to pay my rent this month. And secondly, I learned that a process that I had been using for months was flawed, and developing a new process will help streamline all future projects.
Had it not been for this painful project, I wouldn’t have developed a better process. Had it not been for the painful sales job, I wouldn’t have learned how to sell.
What are you missing out on, simply because you’re scared to face purposeful pain?