“The Pain Period”
I recently read an article on persistence and the value/necessity of it in success over at tynan.net. The article is here.
I’ll quote my favorite part from Tynan here:
Here’s the progression of success as best I understand it:
1. Get an idea
2. Start working
3. PAIN PERIOD
1. Getting an idea is easy. Everyone has ideas and thinks they’re so smart for coming up with them (myself included, of course). The thing is, the IDEA is probably the least important part. Why is Jay-Z a great drug dealer and a great rapper and a great clothing line creator? Is it because these are great ideas? NO. It’s because he’s a hustler (baby).
2. Start working. This is the fun part where you have 99 parts of your project, 50 of which are fun and easy. You work on those and feel great.
3. Pain Period. This is where I ALWAYS used to give up. Things stop going perfectly and it’s time to batten the hatches and start rocking. It’s time to put your WANTS aside and focus on the NEEDS of your project. THIS IS THE KEY PART! If you get past here, you succeed. If you don’t, you don’t succeed. Period.
I could write about 10 posts about this alone. Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about how his one skill is pushing through the pain period. And look! He’s a successful body builder, actor, and politician. Good ideas? Natural talents? NOPE. Just pushing through.
4. Success. This is the holy grail. People think that what you’ve done is easy once you get here. “50 cent is a crappy rapper. If I got to work with Eminem and Dr. Dre I’d be as good as him.” Yeah, but you know what? He PUSHED through the pain period of getting there and now enjoys success, which is a lot easier. You see the result, not the process.
It’s weeks like the one I’ve just had where I need to remember the whole “persist” thing. Multiple rejections, half of them form letters, have come in. My shoulder is still hurt, dulling my mind and making me cranky as well as making it tough for me to spend significant time typing. I cracked a tooth as well playing DnD (don’t ask). Generally it hasn’t been the best week ever. And there’s the bigger picture, too. Some days it feels as though I’m not getting any better, not ever going to sell anything ever again, etc… It’s easy sitting alone in my office, drugged and tired and cranky, to despair and wonder if I’ve jumped off the high-dive without checking for water in the pool.
I think this is what is called the pain period, at least for me. Not just the physical pain, but the constant doubts as well. Tynan’s post is timely, as were Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s two posts on giving up on yourself, found here (Part 1) and here (Part 2). I especially like Rusch’s point about giving up on yourself by degrees, a little at a time so that it is tough to notice the change of direction. I think in the “pain period” that Tynan talks about, it is easy to do this, to lose sight of what you really want to achieve because success seems too hard to attain, too far away, with too many unknowns standing in the path.
These articles hit the spot for me exactly. Keep writing, keep submitting, keep improving and learning and trying. I just need to remember to hold these things in my mind. This last week of disappointment and teeth-gritting has been a blessing in disguise in some ways. It’s helped me think about what I want and where I’m going, helped me make those tiny adjustments to my goals and progress that Rusch talks about being so vital. Every time I defeat the voice in my head that says I’ll never be good enough, that everything I write is worse than everything I’ve written, every time I press on beyond the doubts and rejections, I find a kind of success. I don’t know that the “pain period” ever really ends, as each level of goal achieving will likely bring new challenges and ways to fall apart, but I believe with persistence it will get easier; each success lining up, giving me more ammunition against the doubts.
It never ends.