“Pain is a pathway,” Brent Gleeson writes in his book, Embrace The Suck. “Life will eventually knock you hard on your a**. Accepting that fact is a stepping-stone to growth. Just expect pain.”
Cutting to the chase, the book Embrace The Suck is all about mindset and how you have to accept that life is just going to plain suck at times. Whether it is in your personal life or business…this is just the way it is.
On the Other Side of Failure Is Success
What Gleeson wrote in his book about failure served as a good reminder to me that it is OK to fail (if we learn from the failure).
Usually, you learn the most by failing because you figure out what not to do. Also, it helps build your mindset because failure is uncomfortable and doesn’t feel good…but when you get through the failure, you gain confidence through experience…and you are more likely to create success on the other side.
For that reason, failure can pave the pathway to your success. As long as you don’t run from failure, but rather choose to learn from it, it’s valuable. Failure is only failure if you give up. If you learn from it and pivot, it’s a win.
I also believe dealing with failure and sucky things are work-outs for your mind. When you have to embrace the suck and deal with it, you are working out the muscle of dealing with uncomfortable situations. The more you do it, the easier it will become (like public speaking!).
Success Is Determined by the Stress You Can Handle
Gleeson also talks about stress being beneficial to success. A certain level of stress is OK as long as it not debilitating for you.
Darren Daily also talks about stress. He says that the success of your life is determined by the amount of stress you can (and are willing to) tolerate.
This is a personal decision you have to make. I have managed to arrive at a certain level of success. But that’s because I’m OK with the stress that comes with running multiple businesses, owning real estate properties, and trying to raise a family (eh, somewhat) successfully.
As I write this article, I’m going through some challenges in business and sucky things with one of our real estate properties. Also, I’ve been dealing with replacing an employee at work who gave notice out of the blue.
These things coming at me all at once in the past week have been creating quite a bit of chaos and stress. But instead of letting it shut me down, I recognize it and effectively deal with it.
However, there’s a limit to the amount of stress I want to bear. Look at someone like Richard Branson. He’s exponentially more successful than I am. He’s also chosen to accept and handle way more stress across his many businesses than I am prepared to do.
Personally, I don’t want to have the level of success of someone like Richard Branson and all that comes with it. That said, there is still more I want to achieve in my life so I know I’m going to have to increase how much stress I can handle…and a lot more sucky things are going to happen on account of what I pursue.
I think it’s really freeing to acknowledge that, yep, I’m happy where I am. But sure, I have bigger goals and I want to achieve more. While I feel fulfilled with my life, achievement is still an important part of my personal growth. Do you feel the same way? Have you given this much thought?
Don’t Let Fear of Failure and Stress Stop You
I’m not trying to put anyone down, but there are a lot of people who want a no-stress life with minimal achievement…and that’s fine as long as that’s what you want. But, if you are someone who wants more out of life, but are afraid to go after what you want because of stress or the fear of failure, I want to help you.
Gleeson talks about how we are all going to die so we should take action now. Maybe it is because, statistically speaking, my life is now halfway over, and I’m much more aware of how short my life is. Half my life is already over!
We will all eventually get to the stage in life when we’re too tired and too old to take the action we want to take.
If you want to achieve something, don’t let the fear of failure stop you. Take action. Start small and build upon those wins. Small wins will snowball into bigger wins and build your confidence.
I heard a story the other day about Mike Tyson. After he got out of jail and started boxing again, they purposefully set him up with two fights with opponents who were far below his skill level. They did this so he could have a couple of wins under his belt and boost his confidence to face harder fights.
If you are someone who is afraid to embrace the suck, just go for a few small wins and build from there.
Harness Your Willpower
Gleeson also talks about how willpower is a muscle that needs to be built. I only partly agree with this. I’ve read other books such as Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. He says that willpower is more of a finite resource so do the hard thing first..and I’ve experienced this in my own life.
I believe willpower decreases over the course of the day. That’s why I eat a salad at lunch every day (like I’m doing as I type this out). At this point, it’s mostly a habit, but I still have to make the decision to do it and use willpower.
What I think Gleeson is trying to say is that using your willpower to push through sucky things is a muscle that you need to work out.
I remember when I used to go on sales calls for Ballantine, I’d get so sweaty that I’d have beads of sweat on my forehead…like I had a fever…really helpful for winning the business, ha. But the more I did it, the easier it got. Now I don’t think twice about getting on a sales call.
Maybe you are someone who is terrified of public speaking. A lot of people are. But the more you do it, the easier it will become and you might finally start to enjoy it. At the very least, you’ll feel more confident about doing it.
Do Something That Sucks Every Day
I think Gleeson’s recommendation of doing something that sucks every day is great advice. This is a workout for your mind. You should start really small…like taking cold showers. You’re already going to shower, so why not make the last few minutes of it a cold shower? Embrace the suck!
Look at your daily routine and think about things you are already doing. Is there something you can do that would make things a little more sucky for you? When you intentionally overcome those sucky things, no matter how small, it’s a quick win.
What does doing sucky things in my day look like for me?
- Cold showers – Honestly in the summer it’s bad, but not terrible. In the winter, though, it feels like someone is stabbing me in the back with sharp needles. Sure, I’d rather have a warm shower, but I want to force myself do something that sucks. At the end of my shower, I just turn off the hot water and stand there for a few minutes.
- Workout daily – Besides the five minutes I workout in the morning, I try to run or ride the Peloton every day. No, I don’t look forward to pushing myself to being all sweaty and out of breath, but I do it anyway.
- Deal with confrontation – I’m naturally a non-confrontational person. With work and life, there is always conflict to deal with. It’s part of life and I can either lean into it or I can shut down. When I start to feel flustered, I acknowledge my feelings and push through.
- Social events – I’ll be honest…large social events, or gatherings where I don’t know a lot of people give me anxiety. The previous version of myself would just avoid these events…but now I push myself to go and I usually end up having a good time.
Change Your Mindset
It’s important to create a mindset shift that you know crappy things are going to happen and you just have to deal with them. If you are someone who feels totally crippled when you are stressed out so you push off the things you need to do, then you have to work on embracing the suck.
To reach a certain level of success or a goal you are trying to meet, it is going to require stages of suck.
In your personal life, maybe you want to lose weight. It’s going to require you to sweat and work out when you don’t feel like it.
When it comes to your business, it’s going to mean dealing with customer complaints or making calls you’d rather avoid.
I encourage you to start taking action because we’re only here for a short period of time. As I said, I’ve been thinking about this more because my life is half over (and my daughter strangely reminded me of this the other day…I’d like to think she heard me mention this to my wife).
When I think about how short life is, it’s very motivating. I’m not necessarily talking about spending the rest of my life focusing on making money and growing in success. Rather, I’m looking around and asking myself if I am truly fulfilled. Am I having fun? What do my weekends look like? Who am I hanging out with? Am I helping anyone or contributing to the world?
Hopefully, I’ve helped you to think about embracing the sucky things that happen in your life and business and to not shy away from stressful situations or failure. And, I hope you are really thinking about where you are in life right now and what actions you need to take to have the level of success and fulfillment you want to achieve.
I believe in you.