Earlier this summer (yes, summer isn’t over yet!) I had the privilege of hiking Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, with Bruce Kink. That hike would have been virtually impossible for me in high school. But over the years, I have increased my pain tolerance through emotional fitness and by continuing to push through even when it is uncomfortable.
Think about it. If you’ve ever trained for a half marathon, there is a certain mile when you hit a wall. But over time, and by the time you run the race, you have increased your pain threshold and your physical conditioning such that even though the physical pain or mental discomfort is there, you are able to delay when you actually hit your pain threshold – instead of mile 8, it’s now mile 11.
This applies to all aspects of your life. Lost a client? Had to fire three employees? Risked $250,000 on a capital injection? With each pain point, you fail forward and increase your pain tolerance allowing you to expand your entire thinking about life and business. As you continue to raise the bar on your personal pain threshold, you will never be able to return to your previous level of consciousness. Each challenge you encounter will now be solved with, and set against, your new pain threshold. By raising your pain threshold, you can actually allow yourself to move faster towards the pain, move through it faster, and again, set a new pain threshold for the next time. Failing forward as fast as possible allows us to increase our pain tolerance faster than anything else, which allows conditioning to come into play and work it’s magic.
Here’s another example: In the moment, it is often very difficult to say no to work (the endless emails, that next phone call, the after-hours networking event) in order to spend time with family and friends. Work offers an immediate tangible reward. And while we all like to say family does too, let’s be honest, we can all only play “Frozen” so many times. But here’s the thing, without friends and family what are we working so hard for? It takes practice, a lot of it, to say no to work when family is calling your name and while the results may not be as immediate and in your face, those moments and memories will last a lifetime. Is it painful to say no to work? Yes. In the moment it can be incredibly painful. But with practice (and realizing that there are no real ramifications, in fact there are a myriad of benefits) you will see your pain tolerance increase. Before you know it, you will be on vacation, completely unplugged, building sand castles with your kids!
Sometimes you have to push yourself beyond your perceived limits to truly know what you are capable of. This is where growth happens. When that voice inside your head says “no,” use whatever affirmations, self-talk or slap across the face you need in order to not take the easy way out. Pain is not a bad thing. Pain helps you grow. Look, life (and your tricky little mind) will always give you an out. And most of us will take it. The majority of the population will never challenge themselves and that’s why the majority of the population continues to live in mediocrity.
But not Herg Life Nation. I know you all want to live the biggest life possible and the only way that is going to happen is if you embrace the suck, prepare yourself for the grind, hustle, and take action. Success is not just going to show up. You have got to put in the work. It’s hard and it’s painful. But it will get easier. Every time you take that leap outside of mediocrity you will be increasing your pain tolerance. And the next time you come up against the same challenge (an intense workout, public speaking, a work obligation) it won’t hurt so much, in fact it may not hurt at all and you’ll be plugging along with no problem. Where it once terrified you to speak in front of 5 people, perhaps now it takes 500 people to make you sweat. That’s your pain threshold increasing. And the really cool thing is, because you stretched yourself, conditioned yourself and grown, speaking in front of 5 people will never be an issue. And pretty soon, an audience of 500 will be a walk in the park. As long as you keep breaking through your existing pain threshold. You have elevated your level of thinking, your emotional fitness, and your pain threshold. Imagine doing that once a year, once a quarter or more. Imagine how much you would grow and step up your life.
By the way, have you ever noticed that when very successful business owners go bankrupt after building their company for 20+ years (often because they enter into too many long term debt obligations early in their career), they are able to build their company back to that level of success or higher in a fraction of the time? That is because they have already put in the grind, gone through a lot of pain, and gained a ton of knowledge. Their thinking is so expanded that what took them 20 years before, will now take two. That’s the power of increasing your pain tolerance.
Pain is weakness leaving the body. Increase your pain tolerance, embrace the suck and you will truly be living a life without limits.