Can a hardship actually make you a better person, entrepreneur, or business owner?
People who overcome physical trauma, troubled relationships, and distress of all kinds are the most powerful people in the world. Why? I can think of seven reasons, which I’ll describe below, and there are probably many others, too!
First, know this. Social pain, rejection, and failure in business are every bit as real as physical pain.When the sufferer comes out the other side and is able to see the hardship as something other than a liability; that’s when the opportunity for growth occurs. Some even believe that you can’t feel or appreciate success until you’ve experienced pain or failure. Success, combined with relief, feels sweeter.
In addition to the general experience of happiness after, or in the midst of, pain, another psychological phenomenon takes place… the contrast in perspective.
We’ve all seen it: the champion who walks again after a debilitating injury, the family that grows closer after a horrible loss, the entrepreneur who rebounds in a powerful new venture after losing her neck in a previous failed endeavor. How does that happen, and how can dealing with pain as a business owner teach you what success never can?
You are stronger than you think. Period. In the moment when you are saying “I can’t…” the reality is that, well, there you are actually enduring it! The more difficult the situation, the more you are able to see how truly capable you are. Knowing that nothing lasts forever is the first step; but real comfort comes from just knowing that you can get through anything. You will rebound after the pain has run its course. Keep your eyes on that prize and contemplate what you’ll do then.
If resiliency is the ability to bounce back, toughness is the scar tissue that makes the next round less painful. In today’s business world where vulnerability is the buzzword; let’s face it, a little bit of “true grit” goes a long way. The first time you fail, well that sucks. The second time, not as much. No one wants to become an expert at dealing with pain, but the more setbacks you encounter, the easier it is to forge ahead. As touted in the wonderful concept “Go for No,” repeated rejection becomes a welcome experience. You can almost smell the nearness of victory when you’re tough. At least the lack of it doesn’t faze you as much!
Ever meet someone who’s never failed? Me neither. We’ve all been there. Pain is personal, and some people don’t wear it in a place others can see, but sure enough, they’ve been there, too. Humility is the quality of being and acting humble. It often comes with age and experience. Knowing where your weaknesses lie takes some time, but once you do, that knowledge has a silver lining. You can use it to avoid similar pain in the future. (No sense repeating the same mistakes over and over again.) But the best thing about humility is that you know, in the future that you win some, and you lose some. No one’s perfect. NO ONE. Which brings us to the next quality that comes from surviving pain…
Going through a difficult struggle makes you more likely and able to be gentle with others. Compassion and the kindness that stems from it may be one of the highest results of a bout with pain.
Patience with others AND yourself. A painful period in life reveals all the snags and stumbling blocks humanity faces. Once you experience pain, physical or mental, you rarely really forget it. Even if you muscled through in the most heroic fashion, you still understand that pain is real, that you will endure it again, and that others have their own experience of it. Whether your pain is the result of a terrible mistake you made, or circumstances thrust upon you; when you’re in it, you feel like you’re trapped, and relief is a waiting game. Since you can’t snap your fingers and be rid of pain in an instant, most people develop a new sense of patience that would never have existed before.
Now who doesn’t want to become wise? People who possess wisdom usually also possess all the beneficial attributes that go with it, respect, wealth, health, high social position and the esteem of their peers. How many wise people do you know can say they came by wisdom the easy way? Nope. It’s earned. Usually, endured through a trial or tribulation, hard work, receptivity, and great thoughtfulness. Wisdom doesn’t just happen. The person who goes through pain and comes out wise, has put herself through the mental paces others don’t or won’t. Wisdom is a choice.
You go through something painful; you learn new things about yourself, other people, and your environment. Dealing with pain as a business owner makes you creative. Either in dealing with the troubles you’re enduring or discovering ways to avoid it in the future; your brain will become very resourceful in times of pain. When you come out the other side, you’ll be able to solve all sorts of problems you never thought possible. Creativity can be cultivated anytime, anywhere, even (especially) in painful times.
There are probably as many positive byproducts of pain as negative. Next time you’re stuck in a bad day, or even a rut that lasts months, look for all the ways you can feel grateful. Once you identify them, that gratitude will carry you through just about any bad business day.
All the attributes you earn in dealing with pain are qualities that separate serious business people from the lightweights. Even though you don’t want to stay in a painful place for long, accept that pain is a given part of life and business, and welcome the chance to grow from it.
When you’re going through troubling times in your business, though, don’t go it alone. Talk it out with other business colleagues or a trusted business coach, or even a mental health professional. Remember, there’s a silver lining there. You will find it it you look.