What kind of pain do you want?

Dennis

The fact that you cannot escape the downsides of your strengths brings us to an interesting decision point. People often talk about the success they aspire to in life, but as author Mark Manson writes, the most important question to ask yourself is not, “What kind of success do I want?”, but rather, “…What kind of pain are you willing to bear in the name of achieving what you want to achieve? Answering this question honestly often leads to more insight about what you really care about than thinking of your dreams and aspirations.” —James Clear

One of the ingredients of a good life, I think, is using our strengths as consistently as possible to achieve things we care deeply about.

But while our strengths add value to our lives, they also can have a shadow side.

For instance, self disciplined people may lack spontaneity, while those known for their ability to improvise in the moment may have difficulty achieving goals that require consistent and persistent behavior.

Likewise, “success” can have a shadow side. In aspiring to something we regard as important we may simultaneously sacrifice something else that is also important to us.

Life’s most important decisions seldom are between something we value and something we don’t. Rather they are choices between two or more things that are important to us. Choosing one (for example, making a bigger difference in our work) is likely to mean sacrificing something else (say, family time or health).

That means that the pursuit of something important is likely to come with a cost or “pain,” as Mark Manson explains it.

Awareness of that reality can help us make more conscious decisions about the kinds of lives we want to have.

What do you think—does “success” have a potential downside, and how might it be avoided or at least minimized?

4 Responses to “What kind of pain do you want?”


  1. 1 Jpkillion October 26, 2016 at 7:17 am

    So many successful people are plagued by the pain their success causes. Addictions, isolations, fears, insecurities, etc. are rampant among successful people. I am reminded about the dichotomy between perfection and satisfication. Thank you for a reminder that life is a series of choices we make.

  2. 3 Kent Peterson October 29, 2016 at 11:14 am

    You lay out a very important set of issues for leaders to consider–the paradox of what choices to make in your life and career. Every choice to spend out energies in one direction will always mean giving up something in another arena. Knowing one’s values can help in those choices.


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