Choosing the Pain of Growth


Say you strike up a conversation with someone you have never met before at a coffee shop.  You ask, “What’s a typical day like for you?”

They respond by saying, “I go to work.  I go to the gym.  I spend time with my family.  And I also make it a point to spend an hour a day doing something I really don’t want to do.”

This strikes you as slightly odd, so you inquire as to why and they say, “Haven’t you heard, ‘no pain, no gain’?  Haven’t you heard that discomfort is the only way to get beyond your comfort zone?  Haven’t you heard that all people who succeed constantly struggle to do it?”

How would this explanation seem to you?

The guy in the above example is coming from the idea that discomfort and pain leads to growth.

And it can.  Just think of the personal growth of a runner finishing her first marathon, a runner who two years ago doubted that she could even run two miles.

However, discomfort and pain can also lead to personal contraction.

For example, if I told myself, “Now, Jason, you have to write out each of your blogs longhand.  In addition, every time you see a new correction you want to make, you have to write the whole thing out again.  What you need to do, Jason, is write your blogs out longhand again and again until they are perfect.  Only then can you type them up.  This way you will learn to be perfect, Jason.”  (I’m finding it somewhat odd that I’m choosing at this point to talk about myself in third person.)

Now I’m much faster at typing than I am at writing longhand.  Writing blogs again and again longhand until they were perfect would probably take me sixteen hours a day and be very uncomfortable and even painful.

Would I experience personal growth of some sort?   There’s a chance.  But far more likely, I would experience personal contraction as I gave up yoga, social contact, cleaning my apartment, and basically the rest of my life in order to write-out blogs longhand.  Ridiculous, right?

To grow we need to become skilled at choosing discomfort and occasional pain that promotes our personal growth rather than discomfort and pain that promotes our personal contraction. 

When we were kids it was easy to tell if we were growing.  We grew taller.  This could be quickly measured with a yardstick.

For adults, personal growth is often harder to measure.  As we saw in the above examples, discomfort and pain can be associated with either personal growth OR personal contraction.

Maybe, the feelings surrounding the discomfort and pain could be an important indicator of whether or not we are in fact experiencing personal growth.

Although the marathon runner feels discomfort and pain during the marathon, she also feels the joy and wonder of accomplishing something she has never done before and then experiences the utter thrill of finishing.

Whereas, the feelings surrounding the discomfort and pain of writing my blogs out again and again until they were perfect would lead me to experience frustration that the process was taking all my time, loneliness from missing social interactions, and more frustration that my home was so dirty because I was devoting all my time to writing blogs out longhand.

Basically the pain and discomfort that the marathon runner experienced would help her to feel powerful and good about herself, whereas my hypothetical-harebrained-writing-blogs-out-longhand idea would lead me to feel powerless and miserable about myself.

As I write this, I’m becoming more and more amazed at how vast the difference between pains of personal growth and the pains of personal contraction can be.

So when you choose to experience pain and discomfort be sure that it’s actually taking you in the direction of your growth.

Game of the Day

How will you determine when you are experiencing pains of personal growth versus pains of personal contraction?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com

The Parade of Your Incredible Accomplishments

Have you ever noticed that you can do a great many things well, then do one thing in a way that you determine is wrong, only to end up spending a disproportionate amount of time focused on the one thing you did WRONG?

I sure have!

We can spend hours and even days analyzing questions like: “Why did I do it wrong?”   And “Why am I not good at this?”

Meanwhile, a PARADE OF OUR INCREDIBLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS can float through our lives with us barely noticing.

What would it to be like to focus on our parade of incredible accomplishments, instead of the things we feel we do wrong?

(I ask this question as a man who has spent much time hot on the “What Went Wrong” Trail, “The I Can’t Do It” Trail, and an old special favorite of mine, the “What I did Totally Wrong” Trail.  I can tell you from countless years of experience that these trails are  an especially “SORRY” lot of trails.  I know this because I said, “I’m sorry” an awful lot when I was traversing them.)

After years of being on the “Sorry” trails, it has finally occurred to me, why not follow the parade of my incredible accomplishments towards my dreams instead of getting lost and frustrated on these others trails?  Why not learn to become a highly skilled navigator who is adept at finding this parade route anytime, day or night?

When we focus on becoming highly skilled navigators consistently charting a course towards our parade route, we become much more in tune with the clues pointing towards our accomplishments.  We can begin to catch the scent of our big dreams in the little successes here and there, in the gradual accumulation of our victories.

When we are starting off, this trail of successes and good things might not look like the Macy’s Day Parade.  In fact, it may be so faint that we really need to concentrate to find it.  But keep looking!  This doesn’t mean that our accomplishments aren’t there.  It just means that we are so attuned to focusing on the “Sorry” trails that we haven’t taken the time to fully appreciate or even notice them.

Navigating your way back to the PARADE OF YOUR INCREDIBLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS is simple and fun.  Every time you notice and celebrate something that went well, you discover your parade route.  Every time you savor and focus on your successes, small or large, you take part in your parade.  Each time you delight in the gift you are to the world, you are in the center of your parade.  Every time you savor and focus on how your dreams, the sights and sounds of your parade are with you.

You have the opportunity to rediscover your parade route with fresh eyes each new day.  This is cause for celebration!

Game of the Day

Enjoy finding your way to the PARADE OF YOUR INCREDIBLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS today!

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com

Tune Into the Language of Your Growth

As small kids, we naturally discovered that being incapable of an activity was often a temporary state.  We were incapable of talking until we learned to talk.  Just because at one point we weren’t talking, didn’t mean we would always be unable to talk.  As toddlers, I don’t think we even considered not learning to talk.  We just did it.  Our growth was very natural.  We didn’t question it.

To learn to talk, we discovered that we had to listen closely to what people older than us were saying and repeat it.  So we did! (Can you imagine how hard it would be to learn to talk if we had refused to listen?)

And not only did we listen to the older kids and adults around us speak, we PRACTICED speaking again and again until eventually we learned to communicate with language easily and naturally.

I started reflecting upon the determination with which small children learn because in a Bikram Yoga class a few months ago, I became so dizzy that I chose to sit out many of the poses.  But I remember that I kept listening to the cues the teacher was giving and thinking about the poses as the other students did them.

The Bikram experience got me thinking about how often in life I have not been determined to learn.  On many occasions, I have chosen to sit out activities because I felt incapable of them.  Not only did I sit the activities out, but I also tuned the teachers of those activities out and started daydreaming, instead of listening to their wisdom and instructions.  It was like since I didn’t feel capable of performing these activities, I put a blindfold on and covered my ears to see if that would help me learn.  It didn’t.  And further, I wasn’t benefiting from the teacher’s enthusiasm for the activity. I was rather saying, “I CAN’T” and then through my lack of attention moving myself farther away from “I CAN.”

After years of stubbornness and frustration, I’m discovering that learning a challenging activity begins with listening and watching and continues with trying.  Trying can be very humbling.  In yoga class, I’ve tried Crane pose for years and haven’t YET been able to hold the pose for a length of time.  But now I always listen as the teacher explains the set-up.  Then I make an attempt.   And someday I’m confident that I will be able to hold crane.

I’ve discovered that close listening to our teachers is not only a sign of respect for our teachers, but a sign of respect for ourselves and our growth.

Let’s listen to all the people who take the time to teacher us challenging activities as we listened closely to every word when we were little kids learning to talk.  Back then every word brought with it the opportunity for us to GROW.  And we LOVED IT.  May listening closely to all who have things to teach us bring us GREAT JOY again.

Game of the Day

What do you LOVE about learning how to do a challenging activity?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com. 

Brilliant Waiting

This afternoon I drove to get my car washed.  I figured that it would take maybe 10 or 15 minutes tops to do the inside and out.  The attendant who greeted me offered me the Manager’s Special and said it will take AT LEAST HALF AN HOUR to get my car done.  NOW I DID NOT FIND THAT SPECIAL.  I mean I was already OVERWHELMED with everything on my TO-DO LIST, and let me tell you, waiting an extra FIFTEEN minutes WAS NOT ONE OF THE ITEMS ON MY LIST.

(By the way, the words in caps equal drama in my head.)

Do you ever have those days where you are overwhelmed and just feel that you don’t have an extra 15 minutes?

In that moment, I realized I had a BUSY DAY ahead of me and that I already felt WAY BEHIND and now to get my car the way I wanted it, I had to wait 30 MINUTES or more with NOTHING TO DO.  Let me define nothing to do: I didn’t have my calendar. I didn’t have my notebook.  I didn’t even have text messages to catch up on and it was in the middle of a workday so not even a good time to call people. I mean I had NOTHING TO DO!

 Have you ever been in this situation?  How did you handle it?

Well, THIS WAS A PREDICAMENT.  My first thought was, “How can I get out of this one?  Should I drive home quickly and get something to work on?”  No, that would take even more time.  Then I thought, “Oh, good, they have a gift shop, I can just buy a notebook and write.   SO I CAN AT LEAST BE DOING SOMETHING.”  But guess what?  Their gift shop was a NOTEBOOK-LESS GIFT SHOP.  And to make matters worse, there weren’t any other promising NOTEBOOK ABUNDANT stores close by.

How would you spend a half hour or more at the car wash with nothing to do?

I considered more options.  In the waiting area, there were free magazines to read or there were greeting cards I could peruse in the gift shop.  But neither option seemed to be PRODUCTIVE.

So, with nothing else to do, I took a seat on a bench out by where the cars come out when they are done and JUST SAT AND WAITED.  For the first five or ten minutes, simply waiting was kind of hard.

Then I began to really notice where I was.  Now I thought I already knew where I was.  I was at a car wash on Pacific Highway JUST WAITING.

But in another way, I realized that I had no idea where I was.  It had been a frustrating blur in my busy day.

Gradually I began to notice the blue sky and the fact that the Big Bay of San Diego was shimmering a block away.  There was a cruise ship dock down there.  Palm trees swayed in the wind close by.

And suddenly I noticed how glad I was to have the luxury of sitting and waiting with nothing to do.  I was literally in paradise. But until I sat down with nothing to do, I hadn’t noticed.

The place I was became beautiful because I sat and noticed it.  Was it beautiful before I sat and noticed it?  Sure it was, but I wasn’t aware of it.

My car wash experience has got me thinking.  Maybe success in life is as much about pausing to notice the wonder of where we are at right now, as it is taking the actions to be successful.

Maybe part of getting ahead is simply noticing how far ahead we are and pausing to appreciate it.

Game of the Day

How will you really notice where you are today?

How will you appreciate where you are today?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com.

Lining Up the Yes’s (Instead of Fussing With the No’s)

 

I had the honor of writing a guest article on Nancy Battye’s website.  Nancy is an incredible woman who created the tele seminar series ‘Sow a Seed of Self Confidence – Spark Your Ultimate Success.’  I am deeply appreciative to Nancy for inviting me to be one of the speakers in her powerful series.

Check out Nancy’s inspirational website and read the article I wrote on the link below.

Lining Up the Yes’s (Instead of Fussing With the No’s)

Living Your Definition of Everything

If you are like me, on many days it’s easy to get caught up in dreaming of the some day when life just totally works out and you are everything that you want to be.

My father, who is an amazing poet, wrote a poem on this subject:

DAYDREAMS

A child can carry on,

Where we leave off,

With plans and dreams

For yet another generation.

My eight year old son

Captures the spirit properly

As he answers

(In response to an adult’s query

            about the future)

“I want to be everything.”

Me too.

Even now.  *

Some years ago, I was the kid in that poem.  When I was eight, being everything meant being able to work in all professions, to be a carpenter, a doctor, an airline pilot, a fireman and so on.

Now I realize that my definition of ‘Being Everything I Want To Be’ looks more like this:

Happiness + My goals and dreams + The activities and circumstances that are actually part of my day = Being Everything I Want To Be

This equation seems abstract, even to me, so let me invite our fictitious friends to help explain it.  Meet Samantha, Ken and Bob, three people who seem to have all.  They all want to be everything and all are in the process of making lots of money.  But which of them creates the confident and content feeling of Being Everything He or She Wants To Be on a daily basis?  Let’s see!  (I’m using making money as the goal that our friends share because it’s easy to illustrate.  As you read on think about your individual goals.)

Samantha wants to be a millionaire many times over.  To achieve this goal she knows how much she needs to make everyday.  But today she only made half as much.  Oh no!

As she’s trying to drift off to sleep after a hard day, she keeps thinking:

What I actually made ($10,000) ­minus my goal ($20,000) = (negative $10,000) and FRUSTRATION and Definitely Not Being Everything I Want To Be.

(Ok, I know most people don’t think in strange word and number combination equations.  Our friends may be a little unique.)

Now let’s see how Ken is doing.  Ken keeps comparing his results to Teresa who is a billionaire.  As he tosses and turns, his equation looks something like this:

What I actually made ($12,000) minus my realistic goal ($18,000) minus what I imagine Teresa made today ($2,000,000) = I’m a loser!  I didn’t even make my measly goal.  I’m nothing compared to Teresa, let alone Being Everything I want To Be.

Time to check in with Bob.  Bob has determined first and foremost that he wants to live his definition of Being Everything He Wants To Be.  A major part of his definition is being happy.  Like Samantha and Ken, he also has a goal of being a millionaire many times over by year-end, and he knows exactly how much he needs to make everyday to achieve that goal.  At the end of this particular day, he only made one-fourth as much as his daily goal.

He drifts of to sleep quickly thinking of this equation:

Today I was happy + I had the honor of making ($2,000) + I have the challenge of working to meet my goal tomorrow ($10,000) = I Am Being Everything I Want To Be.  (Bob frequently comments to his clients and friends, “You know, a huge part of success is actually enjoying being successful.”  He also has been known to say, “I’ve created the life I live today and my creation is good.”

 Now does Bob desire that his daily definition of Being Everything He Wants To Be grow?  You bet!  And he has quiet confidence that it will.  As he is drifting off to sleep, he muses that his definition of being everything in second grade was successfully riding his bike around the block without falling.  Wow!  How his definition of Being Everything He Wants To Be has grown through the years.

Notice that person who made the least amount of money during the day is the happiest because he is focused on putting happiness into his daily definition of Being Everything He Wants To Be and then living that daily definition.  Bob has designed his life so that he is happy today, and will be happy when he makes $12,000 or $2,000,000 a day too because happiness is central to his daily definition of Being Everything He Wants To Be.

 * Something At Last: Dakota Poetry and Sketches  Poems by Jerome Freeman, Sketches by Jean Bailey, Pine Hill Press,  1993

Game of the Day 

  1. How can you more intentionally put happiness in your daily definition of Being Everything You Want To Be?
  2. At the end of each day, how can you acknowledge that today you lived your daily definition of Being Everything You Wanted To Be?
  3. Think of your daily definition of Being Everything You Wanted To Be when you were a young kid.  Think of your daily definition of Being Everything You Want To Be now.  How has your daily definition naturally grown?
  4. Now think in as much detail as you can of what you want your daily definition of Being Everything you Want To Be to look like a year from now?   Five years from now?  Ten years from now?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com.

Know What To Do In Case Of Everyday Life

We move at many different speeds throughout the day from sitting at the computer going 0 MPH to driving on the interstate going 75 MPH.  In my youth, I loved moving slow and dawdling.  I became highly proficient at it.

Over the years, I have slowly (imagine that) discovered that in the course of daily life crisis situations requiring speed, calmness and focus often arise.  These crisis situations could be what we traditionally consider an emergency.  But much more often, they are situations that feel like a crisis as when we get exceedingly nervous as we give a performance of some type or produce a result.

Whether an actual crisis or an event that feels likes a crisis, these situations require speed, calmness and focus to manage skillfully at a time when we often feel least like being speedy, calm and focused.

 Crisis and crisis-like situations occur in the course of everyday life.  When I was younger, I avoided crisis as if it was a dirty fear-based word.  Now I realize that dealing with a crisis or a crisis-like situation is simply an opportunity that requires practice, just like learning any other new skill.

One way to practice for a crisis or a crisis-like situation is by intentionally speeding up and intensifying our lives for limited periods of time.  This way we can slowly build our Super Hero Crisis Preparedness Muscles.

Our exercise routines are a great venue for this practice. We can develop our physical fitness and our Super Hero Crisis Preparedness Muscles at the same time.

For example, just before New Years, I started taking Bikram Yoga classes several times a week.  Bikram Yoga creates a circumstance, which in many respects resembles the intensity of a crisis or a crisis-like situation.  A Bikram Yoga class lasts 90 minutes and combines a challenging exercise routine with a studio heated to 105 degrees.  I love this opportunity!  In the class, I learn how to move with the speed of the routine, as well as, how to focus and remain calm under trying circumstances.

It’s very important to select an exercise to build your Super Hero Crisis Preparedness Muscles that suits you and does not challenge you to the extent that you feel like you are in the middle of an actual crisis. For example, the sport of boxing would not be a good choice for me because I would feel very much like I was in the middle of an actual unfolding crisis as I got hit in the face.

Our Super Hero Crisis Preparedness Exercise Routine can be challenging enough that it demands our focus, calmness and encourages us to move at a faster speed than we are used to, but not so overwhelming that we injure ourselves or cause ourselves sickness as a result.

The fruit of building our Super Hero Crisis Preparedness Muscles comes when we are able to move into the crisis or crisis-like situations that daily life sometimes offers with speed, calmness and focus.  We can learn to approach crisis or crisis-like situations as opportunities to use our Super Hero Crisis Preparedness muscles.

Game of the Day

What would it be like to move into every crisis or crisis-like situation that daily life sometimes offers with speed, calmness and focus?

What exercise routine might you use to build your Super Hero Crisis Preparedness Muscles?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com.