Posts Tagged development

Pain + Discomfort = Growth & Progress

Pain and discomfort are two words that represent feelings most people spend their time avoiding.  Growth and progress are two words that can represent the end result of going through pain and discomfort.  I thought about these four words today while I was working out at the gym.  

Why do I, and others, push past the point of pain and discomfort when working out?  Do I really need to finish this last repetition?  Do I really need to continually push myself when my muscles ache?  If I want to grow stronger, leaner, and more fit, then the answer is simply, yes.  

Today, I stopped to think about a basic principle of lifting weights.  If I work out four to five times each week, but use the exact same weights each time I lift, then I will only maintain my strength and size.  However, if I want to grow in size and strength I need to change my workout repetitions and slowly add heavier weights over time.  Without putting my body through physical pain and discomfort my muscles will not grow larger.  Remember the saying, “no pain no gain,” right?

As I thought about this idea during my workout today I realized the same principle exists with my personal and professional growth and progress.  Similar to what Albert Einstein once noted, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” How can I expect to grow and progress in my leadership abilities if I continue to do the same things over and over again?  I need to put myself in different situations and challenge myself to grow.

One of my college professors, Chris Meade, Ph.D., at George Fox University’s Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program, once said that leaders must love and accept problems.  The reason he said: “Leaders become magnets for problems.”  He was saying that in order to lead, a leader must seek out and welcome constant problems and challenges.  I believe he was teaching us the importance of leading through change and being the front person to tackle difficult situations and overcome great obstacles.  After all, isn’t that what makes someone a great leader anyway?  

I thought it was an interesting message he was giving us, and at the time, I wondered if that is what I wanted out of life.  Why would anyone really want to deal with problems and difficult situations all the time?  Well, that’s what leaders do, they lead.  I thought long and hard about this message and decided, during class, that leadership was still a passion of mine.  

I started thinking about examples of how leaders become magnets for problems.  Then I began to realize something very interesting.  Looking back at promotions and increased responsibilities during my career I remembered that problems always increased as I moved up in the company.  If I did well with small problems and challenges, then I was given more, and larger problems to overcome.  

Another example would be in community leadership and volunteerism.  An interesting result happens to really good board members and committee leaders.  They get asked to take on more responsibilities, gain invitations to join other boards, and move up in the hierarchy of the organization.  Why does this always happen?  Because people, businesses, and organizations of all sizes need leaders, doers, and problem solvers.  There will never be a time when leaders are not needed in this world.

These thoughts made me think about the term Kaizen, Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion and Stephen R. Covey’s 7th Habit (7 Habits of Highly Effective People): Sharpen the Saw.  Each example is similar, but different in many ways.  Let me explain.

Kaizen is Japanese for “improvement” and is usually referred to as the continuous improvement in all areas of your life. Stagnation is the result of complacency.  Good is the enemy of great.  Society needs to continually improve.  Leaders need to continually improve.  I need to continually push to improve my health and fitness, because everyday my body is aging.  

Newton’s Law’s of Motion state that objects in motion will remain in motion unless met with an unbalanced or greater force.  People are creatures of habit.  I’m sure you have noticed this by now.  Most people resist change and like things to stay status quo.  Change is uncomfortable and sometimes painful.  Many people resist change until something causes them to change.  Ever seen what happens when someone is continually pushed and challenged in their work and personal lives?  Many times these people grow and progress.  On the other hand, have you seen what happens to some people when they are not challenged or pushed?  They can remain the same, stagnant and complacent.  

Finally, Covey’s 7th Habit urges people to continually develop, grow and practice.  You know what happens to a saw if you continually use it without sharpening the blade.  It becomes dull.  Driving your car without regular maintenance will ruin your engine.  The same thing happens with your mind and career.  Personal maintenance is critically important to your health and well-being.  

With all that said, how can I continue to grow and progress in my workouts and career development?  The answer is to accept the pain and discomfort that comes with the territory.  Being in great physical shape is not easy.  Being a leader is not easy.  To some, leadership and physical fitness come naturally.  To the rest of us, we must continually work at it and accept the challenge, pain and discomfort to keep growing and progressing in our lives.


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