We all get stuck sometimes, and often it just takes someone else to give us a nudge in the right direction. When things get hard, we can choose to play it safe, or we can choose to lean in to the discomfort and discover what we are actually capable of. Biology shows us that this is the way we grow. Anyone who’s visited a gym (even just to confirm it’s not really your scene) understands that the workout is difficult. There’s stretching and straining, sweating and shortness of breath. It’s just not comfortable. But we understand that with good nutrition and appropriate rest, that discomfort will actually strengthen us – we will come out looking and feeling better than when we started.
Gary Vanyerchuck tells us that he “loves the hustle” – that he actually wants to lose at times because it sets up a challenge for him that means his eventual victory will be even sweeter. This kind of mindset is as powerful as it is rare. But even for someone like Gary, I believe there is something forward looking, something that is more about expectation than the struggle or discomfort itself.
Nobody works out because it makes them hurt. People work out because they understand that the pain is temporary, and the growth and health benefits are going to continue as long as we’re willing to push through. But the pain itself doesn’t bring any growth. The muscles are being pulled and torn as you’re working out. The growth comes in the recovery, the rest. This is where your muscles heal, and go beyond where they were to a place of actual growth.
I am convinced that most areas of our life develop in the same way. There needs to be some discomfort before there can be growth, but the growth comes with rest and reflection – not just the experience of pain.
So the thing that’s holding you back may not be your enemy – it could in fact be the thing that will teach you. Ryan Holiday wrote a book called “The Obstacle Is the Way“, which drives home this point. Where you’re seeing resistance in your business or your life is most likely the area that will bring the most growth as you face it and overcome it. Sheryl Sandberg wrote “Lean In“, which gives an insight into how she became one of the most successful and powerful women of her generation. It’s not by avoiding or ignoring discomfort – but by pushing into it and exploring how you can grow through it.
Ideally you will back this up with appropriate rest. Prayer, meditation, and journalling have all been recommended for so long by so many different people it seems almost ridiculous that it’s not assumed, yet I know that if I’m not deliberate about these things in my own life, it’s easy to let the good habits fall away.
What I’m working towards here is to say that your challenges are your opportunities. It’s just a matter of reframing. And then you’ve got to work it out. Lean in to the resistance, strengthen yourself, and find the advantage that comes from real learning, real growth, real experience.
But how do you do that when you’re in the middle of the mess? What can you do if you’re unable to find rest enough to go through the pain? Solomon wrote “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”. Sometimes the best thing to do is to ask for help. Bring in a friend, someone you can trust. Find someone who has experience, who will fight beside you and get you through the battle. I’ve been privileged to stand with people, and have had the joy of knowing that others are standing with me. In the most difficult times, it’s a truly humbling experience to know that you’re not alone.
So keep this in mind while you’re working away and feeling that resistance. And especially in those moments where things are starting to feel overwhelming. Keep your eyes on the prize, and don’t be afraid to ask for help – it could be the thing that becomes a foundation for you to grow from. And keep your eyes open to those around you. Be willing to encourage, to strengthen, and to stand with one another. It doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment to be life changing – sometimes you’ve just got to get through the battle you’re facing. And out of such moments, lifelong bonds are formed.