Embrace the Pain

weight lifter with head down

I had a recent conversation with my trainer, Jimmy, about the counter-intuitive nature of bodybuilding. He was challenging me prior to one of our last sets of the session, “your body is going to be screaming ‘go faster’ and burn through this set, I want you to overpower your natural emotions and continue to work the muscle in the way this exercise intends to.”

Halfway through the set —it was excruciating —I was reminded that this advice pertains to all areas of life, business especially.

As I frequently write and talk about, organizational life is reactionary these days. Everyone is on the run, everyone is busy, and there is little time to spare. Organizationally, “pounding through the last set,” is sending a reply-all to the 33rd email in the chain (that sort of thing never happens at Hoffer Plastics…), rather than having a one-on-one conversation with the main person you need to connect with. It is assuming the worst when your team member writes or says something–again in email–that can easily be misconstrued, and venting to all the other team members without having a crucial conversation with the person who said it. It is “taking the issue off-line,” getting 38 people around the table (okay 38 is a little bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea) and everyone throwing logs on to the fire without anyone actually stepping up to be accountable for resolution. It is the sense that a lot was just discussed, and “we have a plan,” but three days later that “plan” hasn’t even left the gate for take-off because nobody is captaining the plane.

The examples are endless. They’re all hurried, sloppy, and not efficient in the long run, just like sloppy workouts are.

“Everyone is busy” is often the excuse, isn’t it? But isn’t the real reason that we lack discipline? Slowing down, properly trouble-shooting an issue, and deciding who is accountable, often brings with it the “lactic acid” that a burn-out set does. There is burning and pain, but in the end there is also progress.

This kind of execution and efficiency is counter-intuitive. If it was not, more organizations would be wildly successful.

Doing things the right way is never easy.

As I have said before, often the best decision or strategy is on the other side of your comfort zone. In a world of constant virtual connectivity, slowing down and aligning with fellow human beings is anything but comfortable.

(On that note, if you are reading this Jimmy, I don’t pay you to go light. If it does not suck, we are not doing it. See you tomorrow at 6 a.m.).

And since training fires me up, I’ll end with the question I ask myself every Friday morning when I am driving down Randall Road in the pitch black of the early morning:

How bad do you want it?

I have to ask this question because I am always tired, and it’s always tempting to take the easy way out.

If you want your organization to be mediocre, you don’t have to do embrace the pain.

You can even sleep in.

If you want to improve, however, you have to embrace the counter-intuitive nature of slowing down and acting with discipline.

You have to rise and go.