Peanuts Linus basketball fail


Courage is pain on the inside and strength on the outside.

Pain Week here on the Failure Channel it seems. Leadership (and embracing failure) maven John C. Maxwell’s calls this oomph of ouch “The Law of Pain” in his bookThe 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.” And as has been the focus this week, such pain power lies at the heart of athletic achievement…

  • “Athlete and author Diana Nyad says, ‘I am willing to put myself through anything; temporary pain or discomfort means nothing to me as long as I can see that the experience will take me to a new level. I am interested in the unknown, and the only path to the unknown is through breaking barriers, an often-painful process.’ That’s a process Nyad has gone through many times as she trained to break records as a long-distance swimmer. In 1979, she swam non-stop from Bimini in the Bahamas to Florida. It took her two days. Her record has stood for more than thirty years.”

But Maxwell ascribes a more expansive role that pain plays in one’s life beyond the field of sports…

  • “John McDonnell once said, ‘Every problem introduces a person to himself.’ What an insight! Each time we encounter a painful experience, we get to know ourselves a little better. Pain can stop us dead in our tracks. Or it can cause us to make decisions we would like to put off, deal with issues we would rather not face, and make changes that make us feel uncomfortable. Pain prompts us to face who we are and where we are. What we do with that experience defines who we become.’ Novelist James Baldwin commented, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.’ Often it takes a bad experience for us to face the changes we need to make in our lives. “

He recounts life shaking impact of one of the most painful maladies to afflict someone when he suffered a heart attack at the age of 51…

  • “You could say I had finally reached a teachable moment. And that is the value of the Law of Pain. It gives us an opportunity to turn our lives around. A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn…When bad experiences create strong feelings in us, we either face the feelings and try to change or we try to escape. It’s the old fight-or-flight instinct. We need to train ourselves to fight for positive changes. How do we do that? By remembering that our choices will lead to either the pain of self-discipline or the pain of regret. I’d rather live with the pain of self-discipline and reap the positive rewards than live with the pain of regret, which is something that can create a deep and continual ache within us.”

Lori and I appreciate his perspective that the “pain of regret” is often much greater than the “pain of doing” (as I posted previously about). For one, regret last a lot longer. We’ve embraced lots of pain of fatigue, stress, limitations, but never regret.