Learn from the pain in your life, but don’t simply accept it.
Entrepreneurs are told from the very beginning, “It’s tough being an entrepreneur. You’re going to have to make sacrifices, work long hours and still not be guaranteed success.”
So when you experience a painful challenge, you accept that pain as inevitable, something to be endured as a Badge of Entrepreneurial Honor. Yet by expecting and enduring pain, you miss what I believe is pain’s far more important purpose.
Pain gives you information that is essential for making what are the uniquely best choices for you and for your business.
If I stood with a knife piercing into your side, would you stand still and accept that pain as necessary? No, you’d swiftly step away from the knife, and probably smack the heck out of me to make me stop hurting you. The pain of that knife is conveying valuable information to the brain: This freaking hurts—step away from the knife!
Instead of suffering through your next painful business moment, take the pain as an indicator something’s not working for you.
- When you have a repeatedly demanding client who distracts you from those who are happy to conduct business cooperatively, consider the customer is NOT always right—at least not for you. By acknowledging the pain of their demands as hurtful, you can start finding a way to resolve the current pain and avoid future trouble. Explain that they’re not getting your best work because of the disruptions, and make suggestions to cooperate more productively. If the client refuses, you can politely fire her and leave room for those clients who allow you to do your best work pain-free.
- A cultural misfit can create great pain for you and the others in your employment. Instead of tolerating the pain, replace those employees—even if they do the core work of their job well—with ones whose work aligns with your company values.
- Unless you’re innovating a new technology, you should not accept the pain of revenue shortfalls as inevitable for the first five years. I’ve watched businesses that expected it to take a while to become profitable, and missed the chance to redirect to a viable, profitable model sooner.
Sure, pain includes lessons to help us in the future. But I don’t believe it is an inevitable teacher.
Especially if you’re an entrepreneur, pain is not to be endured. It is an informant, a warning that what you’re experiencing doesn’t work for you. It’s an indicator to make a change to the place where there is no pain.