“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 must accept that life is just going to suck at times. Whether in your personal life or business…this is just how 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 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 are more likely to create success on the other side.
For that reason, failure can pave the pathway to your future 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 stress level is OK as long as it is 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 difficult situations 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 will have to increase how much stress I can handle…and a lot more sucky things will happen on account of what I pursue.
I think it’s really freeing to acknowledge that 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 don’t want stress with minimal achievement…and that’s fine as long as that’s what you want. But, if you want 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 be able to overcome difficult situations and embrace the suck.
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 my short life.
We will all eventually get to a point 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, go for a few small wins and build from there.
Harness Your Willpower
Brent 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.
I think Gleeson is trying to say that using your willpower to push through sucky things is a muscle 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. By embracing the suck, at least in this instance, you’ll feel more confident about being out of your comfort zone.
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, and it helps build mental toughness. 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. Can you do something that would make things a little more sucky for you? It’s a quick win when you intentionally overcome those sucky things, no matter how small.
What are some of the things I do during the day to embrace the suck?
- 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 to do something that sucks. At the end of my shower, I turn off the hot water and stand there for a few minutes.
- Workout daily – Besides the five minutes I work out in the morning, I try to run or ride the Peloton daily. No, I don’t look forward to pushing myself to be 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 one of those painful experiences that everyone deals with, and I can either lean into it or 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 avoid these events…but now I embrace the suck by pushing 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 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 put in the work in order to embrace the suck. It takes a lot of mental toughness to do this.
To reach a certain level of success or a goal you are trying to meet, but it is going to require stages of suck.
In your personal life, maybe you want to lose weight. Not only does it take a lot of self-discipline, but 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).
Moving forward, when I think about how short life is, it’s very motivating. I’m not necessarily talking about spending the rest of my years 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 not shy away from stressful situations or failure. I hope you are thinking about where you’re at 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.