Embrace the Suck

“But neither a bull nor a noble-spirited man comes to be what he is all at once.  He must undertake hard winter training, and prepare himself.”
 — Epictetus
Doing hard stuff sucks.  Many people stop at that thought, and decide not to do the hard stuff.  Not to sign up for a challenging event that seems out of their comfort zone.  Not to push for one more round, not to hang out in the pain cave for a little bit longer to get that new PR.  And it makes sense on the surface — why would anyone voluntarily bring suffering upon themselves?
Nick Palmisciano, a US Army veteran and CEO of Ranger Up, says that “Everyone has a breaking point.  For most people, that point is very low, which is why many people never push themselves past their comfort zone… The dirty little secret is that everyone has a coward inside them, and if you really want to be tough, and I mean that both physically and mentally, you have to push that coward to the breaking point and then push past it every day.  You have to embrace suffering.”
So leaning into suffering makes us tougher.  That makes sense — doing progressively harder things makes us get used to the hardship, and we can constantly push the toughness envelope.  But why do we want to be tough?  What’s the point, so that we can keep taking on even tougher challenges?  Yes, but not all challenges are ones that we can choose.
The world we live in is getting more complex and more chaotic.  Rapidly improving technology makes our lives easier in many ways, but it also makes it easier for the people that would do us harm to succeed in their mission.  Living easier lives also softens us so that when life happens — an illness to ourselves or our family, an accident or other unforeseen physical challenge, a financial crisis due to the loss of a job — the majority of us are very unprepared.
Living a life that is punctuated with voluntary tough challenges, times that we practice “embracing the suck,” will prepare us for the times that we all must face that are involuntary challenges, which are times when it really matters — failure is not an option!
My challenge for you today is to find a way to push the coward inside of you out of their comfort zone a little bit.  Find your breaking point, and push past it.  Make a practice of embracing the suck, getting comfortable with suffering.  Then the toughness will be there when you need it.

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