There are some aspects of pain that we actually need to get better. This morning, my wife and I took our kids to the gym. While they played in the kids’ center, we took a spinning class. The instructor was hard-core.
Without getting into the details, it was a tremendous workout, and in finishing it I felt both energized and exhausted, exactly the type of feeling we get from positive pain.
I’m not talking about the pain that comes when we fall and injure ourselves, or the pain we feel when we, or somebody else, experiences a tremendous hardship. This pain is the pain that we know we need to endure to get better, whether it be at remaining healthy, learning something new, or trying and failing.
There is value in this type of pain because it reminds us that the things we hope to achieve aren’t meant to be easy. We need to struggle, and understand what it feel like to struggle, to truly “get” why we need to work hard to get better.
Thinking back to the spin class, it was interesting how I felt great in the beginning, pained in the middle, and then great again as we began wrapping up. This cycle of getting prepped, struggling through that initial first-half, and then “bringing it on home” during the second portion really held true for me, and it echoed many of my experiences professionally. I often feel like I enjoy taking risks and pushing myself hard, but I sometimes tend to wonder exactly what I got myself into once things really start getting tough.
And then, as I find myself powering through the work, I realize how much better I am for engaging in it.
Another important note: I imagine I would not have pushed myself as hard had my wife not been there with me. In the work that I do, I find that as much as I enjoy doing things individually, I need the collaborative competition (or “collabetition” for lack of a better “word”) in order to really reach the highest I can.
When the workout was over, we thanked the instructor, and walked back to pick up our kids. It was clear that my wife was feeling much the same way that I was. We really need to welcome a little hurt, to be all that we can be.