No pain no gain. When will the price of staying the same become greater than the price of the necessary change? Is your prize big enough to drive you?
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No Pain No Gain
We’ve all heard the cliché: “no pain – no gain”, implying that “nothing comes from nothing”. A good work ethic has taught us that we need to apply ourselves in order to bring anything of value about; that if we really want something, that there is usually a price attached to our achieving it, right? That there is no prize without paying the price.
Whether you are already successful in your endeavours or you are brooding on a great idea that will catapult you to your anticipated success, getting started on a new and significant initiative is always a big first step, isn’t it? The dream or the thought of the successful outcome – the prize – is usually most exhilarating; quite motivating. Then we start to think about what it’s going to take to accomplish – the price – and this is where we separate the wheat from the chaff. Depending on whether we allow it or not, this is where any doubts begin to creep in.
As Goethe so famously said centuries ago: “until one is committed, there is hesitance, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness”. But then he added: “Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no person could have dreamed would come their way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can begin it now. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it”. Sage advice indeed.
Often “paying the price” involves us getting out of our comfort zone: attempting something we may be unfamiliar with or having some risk of failure attached to it, right? Perhaps this is where the “no pain – no gain” cliché comes from? The pain of change…. And so we measure up the price (the pain) we need to spend in order to gain the prize (the gain) and inwardly assess whether the one is worth the other.
The Dog on the Nail
Which reminds me of a lovely story of the traveling salesman sitting on the veranda with a farmer over a cuppa, shooting the breeze before he gets into his sales pitch: he notices the huge dog lying on the floor next to them raise its head from time to time, howl mournfully in pain and then flop down again to continue its nap. It keeps doing this and eventually the salesman asks: “so what’s with the dog?” “Oh never mind him”, says the farmer: “he’s lying on a nail, and it’s uncomfortable – hence the protest howls – but it’s not uncomfortable enough for him to get up and lie elsewhere”.
Change can often be very uncomfortable. Sometimes the prize just doesn’t seem to be worth the price, and we give up trying and just tolerate the nail. This is also often an area we land in when in the coaching conversation. It is one of those incisive questions coaches are renowned for asking: “when is the pain of staying the same going to become bigger than the pain (or fear) of making the change“? 11th commandment time. (In case you aren’t yet aware of my 11th commandment: “you can BS anybody anytime, but you can never BS yourself“).
I believe setting a goal is part of Goethe’s “the moment one commits oneself” in that the “writing it down” forms part of the commitment, doesn’t it? A further step towards defining the prize. In my blog Turbocharging your Goals, I add a few additional dimensions that you can avail yourself of that can increase the likelihood of you meeting or exceeding your expected outcomes by over 85%.
So, why don’t you pick something this week that you have always wanted to achieve, and commit it to yourself in writing: define the prize. In your planning for its achievement define the price its fulfillment is going to take. Commit to doing what it will take to pay the price. Then all you have to do is pay the price. Coupling it with a firm belief that you deserve it, allow Goethe’s “truth” to manifest.
There is one more thing I’d like to share with you. Once you have achieved the prize, please don’t forget to reward yourself for paying the price. Your unconscious mind will remember that and in future contribute to your motivation to “have a go”. Conversely, if you forget, it could well respond in future with a “why bother?” and aid your procrastination.