On the first page of Tyler Hamilton’s excellent book, The Secret Race, he almost unintentionally gives what I think is some of the best advice I’ve ever heard about success:
You can’t block out the pain. You have to embrace it.
Solving any problem in life involves some sort of pain, and embracing that pain is the first step to success. Fortunately for the rest of us, success outside of athletics is rarely the result of deliberately creating more pain to embrace, but of embracing it early before it gets worse.
- Taking the pain of a small loss on a trade prevents a more painful loss later
- Dealing with the short-term pain of change prevents years of life wasted in something (job, marriage, etc) that only creates misery
- Embracing the pains of embarrassment, shame, or alienation allows you to follow your own path and goals, rather than those of others
It’s natural to avoid pain, whether mental or physical. It evolved for just that reason. However, we’re no longer condemned to fight or flight as our only responses (though if you are facing predation they remain great choices). We can choose to act rationally on the message of painful emotions. Choose to embrace them, listen, and act. You’ll thank you later.