Use Pain to Leverage Success

Lean into the feeling you’re avoiding to achieve results

Photo by Jonathan Rados on Unsplash

Do you remember the very first lie you were ever caught telling?

You might’ve been just a child when your parents caught you with chocolate around your mouth, but you swore you don’t know what happened to the chocolate chip cookies.

Your parents might’ve told you to go to your room or maybe you naturally just ran into your room and started to cry from the guilt of lying for the first time.

Fast forward to high school. You try out for the basketball team and get cut, but all your friends make the team.

The girl you like rejects your love letter. Or worse, the girl you’re already dating breaks up with you because ‘it’s just not working out.’

Failing college courses, flopping on job interviews, or the loss of a loved one.

All of these are painful experiences. None of them are pleasant, but they are what build and develop our character. Life is guaranteed to be tough, but it’s how we respond to adversity that makes us who we are and drives us forward.

Pain makes or breaks us

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who respond well to pain and those who fold under the pressure and can’t take it.

Someone who responds well to getting cut from the high school basketball team will use that pain as a motivator. They will practice as much as they can between this year and next year so they can ensure themselves a spot on the roster.

Someone who responds poorly to being cut from the high school basketball team will come to the conclusion that basketball is stupid and might stop playing the sport altogether.

But this is about more than just basketball, it’ll roll over and apply to life as well.

The person who had the drive to work harder and make the team next year will also be the same person who starts their own company and succeeds because when times get tough, they know how to persevere.

On the other hand, the person who got cut and gave up playing basketball will start a company and lose money because when things get tough, all they know how to do is give in to the pain and give up.

Looking for pain

This might sound absurd, but there are some of us out there who look for pain. We understand the power of pain and try to harness it to use as fuel for the fire.

In Michael Jordan’s documentary “The Last Dance,” he constantly talks about how he took pain personally. From small pain like trash-talking on the basketball court to larger pain like losing his father. He took all of it to heart so he could use it as a motivator.

What some people don’t know is that MJ understood what the power of pain was. He successfully harnessed it to become the global icon that he is today.

One example was his own high school basketball team. There is a story parents tell their children about how Jordan was cut from his own high school basketball team as a freshman. This is not true.

The real story is that he was cut from the varsity team he tried out for and was forced to play junior varsity. If you know anything about high school sports, most kids don’t make their varsity team as a freshman and are forced to play JV. Hence, freshmen typically don’t even try out for the varsity squad.

Jordan knew his chances of being cut from the varsity team were high going into the tryout but did it anyway. After he was cut, he used that pain as motivation by taking it personally and came back next year better than ever.

The first story is one that parents tell to coddle their children and help block them from the true pain of being cut from a team.

The second story is one that is rarely told because it’s not what most people who are in pain want to hear.

Jordan knew the power of pain and actively sought it out throughout his career. It made him a stronger person and a better basketball player because he never backed away from it.

Leveraging pain to succeed

No one should actively go around looking to get hurt. Life will do enough of that already. All you need to do is go out and try, pain will be attracted to you like bees to honey.

  • Go out and try to find love. You’ll find heartbreak right around the corner.
  • Start a business and give it your best to make it succeed. Financial loss will come your way before financial success does.
  • Pour your passion into some form of art. Not every art critic will call your work a masterpiece.

It’s what you do with this pain that will decide whether or not you succeed.

Will you sulk in the corner with your head between your legs?

Or will you lean into it, give it your all, prove everyone wrong, and come out on top?

As humans, pain was designed to teach us. Every failure is a lesson learned. The more lessons you learn, the wiser you become.

The next time pain comes your way, don’t fear it, run from it, or cry about it. Accept it as it is, be real with yourself, and push forward with the mindset of proving all your doubters wrong.

It’s not easy to do, but the success you find on the other side of that rainbow will be more than worth your time.

Living life my own way. LinkedIn: Hire me to write for you:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store