Creating anything really great in life requires going through intense effort of some form, be it physical, mental, or emotional. It is common to experience pain in these times. Think of the pain of birth. We excel when we learn to accept and move through this pain, rather than back away from it. This is why coaches push their clients not just up to but through the pain barrier to tap into unused levels of potential. It is only by doing this that we really discover what we’re made of and we find the experience on the other side of pain makes it all worth while. It’s only by passing through this threshold that we really grow and manifest into extraordinary beings – that we blossom!
In my experience, the people I know who are the least fulfilled are those that haven’t learned the importance of this. They’ve learned that pain is a bad thing and something to be avoided at any cost. They have no tolerance of rejection or failure, so they give up trying altogether. So many dreams are abandoned on the road to success. Those who succeed are those that pick up the dream, being prepared to walk on their hands and knees through fire if necessary to get there. Those who succeed are prepared to do whatever it takes. They are prepared to go the extra mile and continue long after the others had already given up.
If on the other hand, all you do is focus on the pain, on how hard something will be, how many hours you’ll have to work and all of that, it’s not only unlikely that you’ll make it to your goal, it’s unlikely that you’ll even begin the journey. This is when your whole bodymind can just go into refusal or shut down. Then you’re stuck until you can get a different perspective on the whole situation.
This is why it’s good for children to earn their pocket-money. Let me explain. When I was 14, I wanted to go to Europe. Now my mum didn’t offer to pay for it. But my motivation was strong enough so I got a job and worked after school and on weekends to save the money over about a year. I worked at a fast food shop. I didn’t particularly like it, but that wasn’t the point. It was hot and dirty most of the time. I would regularly get burned by the hot oil and steam. But, it was a means to an end and I didn’t forget that. It also opened up another whole area of experience. I also made new friends and learned more about myself and my abilities in the process.
The thing is we need compelling reasons to put ourselves through tough experiences. However, once we have compelling reasons, we no longer focus on the pain. Instead we focus on what we’re actually striving for – the gold medal, the sale, the achievement of a major milestone. What makes these compelling are the emotions what we associate with them. Without power of emotion – the power of feeling, not only are you unlikely to succeed, you’re unlikely to even get to first base.
Ironically, this is also why people are willing to experience the pain of debt – because they have been persuaded by an image where people with this or that thing are shown feeling great. This is the way advertising works, not through showing the product, but by associating the product with particular emotions and experiences – happiness, being desired, security, fun etc.. Advertisers will target campaigns based on what they believe their target audience actually wants to experience.
So think about one of your goals. Imagine achieving them as vividly as possible. In this ideal future, how do you feel? Maybe you’re on the top of a dais receiving a gold medal. Maybe you’re receiving your PhD in front of a big admiring crowd, or delivering your first lecture. Is the crowd cheering you? How does your body feel? When you get the medal what do you do, how do you respond? Think about what this goal really means to you. Be honest. By achieving this, what significance will it have to your innermost being. Try and get beyond the ego here. If it is just a celebration of the ego, be very careful because while it wants success, the ego will also sabotage your efforts when it feels threatened – when things get difficult.
If your achievement is not about celebrating the ego, the small ‘I’, what might it really be a celebration of?
Now this visualisation won’t make this event magically materialise, but it will make the end that much more real to you, and the steps on the way will take on a new significance. When we’re energised by our goals we will be prepared to move heaven and earth to achieve them – to go through experiences that outsiders will look upon with disbelief, not understanding why you would want to put yourself through all the hard work. You’ll be prepared to go without, to make sacrifices, to put up with criticism. It might be a gruelling training program leading up to running a marathon. It might mean working day and night on a special project – you name it. You will be unstoppable!
But this is always the test isn’t it. If you really want something, you’ve got to ask yourself “what am I prepared to do to get it? What aren’t you prepared to do? If you want to walk the Kokoda trail but you aren’t prepared to get your hands dirty, then you may need to reconsider and just go for a walk around the block instead.
For those of you who are with me, I invite you now to join me – to get your hands dirty, to go the extra mile, and to go beyond the call of duty to the place where hero’s are made not born.