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Pain is the catalyst for change


Pain is the catalyst for change. You may have heard of the dog that was sitting on the porch whimpering, whining and moaning. On his way to work, a man passed by the dog and noticed the moaning. This continued for an entire week and raised his curiosity because all the other dogs always barked when he walked by their yards. He decided to ask the owner of the dog what’s wrong with his pet. The owner said, "Well, he's actually sitting on a nail." The man replied, "What! Your dog is sitting on a nail. Why doesn't he get off?" The owner said "Well, it just doesn't hurt him enough."

Often, we don’t start something because we know there will be discomfort involved. It keeps nagging and gnawing at us mentally and yet we keep putting it off. Eventually the pain is too overwhelming. Now the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of doing something.

You need to grasp the idea that pain is not the enemy. Pain is your ally. It is the key to making change. Peak performance psychology teaches this. When Arnold Schwarzenegger was rehearsing his role for Conan the Barbarian, he made the statement “pain is temporary”. He kept focusing on seeing his scenes finished and the pain as a necessary element to getting there. You see the real pain is the emotional energy expended in procrastinating and rationalising why you aren’t taking action. The pain becomes suffering. Why wait until this stage to get off the porch?

Pain expresses itself throughout our lives. Whether it be the pain of muscle soreness after a workout or the pain of swollen knees after an intense tennis session. It might be the pain of sitting at your desk and getting the project started. Maybe it's the pain of having that confrontational conversation that you have been putting off. You know you are growing as a person if you are being stretched. It’s just growing pains and this provides transformational momentum. Welcome it. As the Navy SEALs say, “embrace the suck.”

So why don’t people change? They are not in enough pain yet. Don’t wait until the pain leads you to sense of urgency. You don’t perform at optimum levels under that kind of panic-induced stress. Worse still, you can inoculate yourself to the discomfort and soon learn to live with it. You can end up sitting on the couch whining victim-speak. You may even find yourself standing in the office cafeteria complaining about your hard luck life. Instead, remember pain is the catalyst for change. Let it be a signal that you need to move. Let it be a sign post that you are on your way to greatness.