Tag Archives: Pain

Fully articulating your thoughts

When you’re thinking, you internally articulate some of your thoughts in full while leaving others unfinished.

The ones that you articulate in full, you learn from and use to guide your actions. You should therefore fully articulate as many of your important thoughts as you can.

However, leaving a thought unfinished isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can anticipate the conclusion of some thoughts without having to fully articulate them, and others just aren’t important enough to warrant full articulation.

The danger lies in those thoughts that you leave unfinished despite knowing that they’re important, and despite not knowing their conclusion. When you do this, it’s often because you’re trying to ignore the reality that you anticipate a fully articulated thought will show you in order to protect yourself from short term pain.

But it’s exactly those thoughts which, if you force yourself to fully articulate them, enable you to achieve the greatest progress after fighting through the pain.

The pain of stress or emptiness

Sometimes you feel like the pressure is difficult to bear. You feel like there’s too much to do, not enough time to do it, and what you’re doing isn’t producing results.

The resulting stress that each of us feels is exacerbated if you’re a founder who is responsible not only for his individual output but also the output of each of his team members. If they perform, you win as a team. If they don’t, it’s on you for not selecting the right people and motivating them.

At stressful times like this, it’s useful to imagine how the opposite extreme feels like. Imagine that you’re not doing anything and therefore have no responsibilities and no stress. For most of us, we don’t need to imagine this because we’ve lived this at some point in our lives.

The emptiness initially feels boring and eventually becomes painful.

So, the question is not whether you should give into the pain of stress, which is most easily done by giving up. The question is whether you choose the pain of stress or the pain of emptiness.

Producing

Consuming is easy. But consumption produces just a short-term burst of happiness.

Buying something and browsing social media are examples of consumption. They come naturally to us and produce short-term happiness but don’t generate long-term meaning.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consume. Some consumption, like food, is necessary to survive. And many types of consumption are entertaining. Examples beyond buying something and browsing social media include listening to music, reading books, and watching movies. And entertainment contributes to a happy life.

However, long-term meaning comes from producing, not consuming.

And producing is difficult. Especially producing something valuable that other people want. It requires sacrificing some of the short-term happiness of consuming.

Examples of production are just the reverse of examples of consumption. If someone is buying something, then someone else must have built the thing that is being bought. If someone is browsing social media, then someone else must have created the content that is being browsed. Building things and creating content are examples of production.

Producing something valuable takes careful thought, planning, building your product, putting it out there, taking in feedback, and continually refining it. It’s painful and you need to be dedicated and disciplined to overcome the pain.

Because production demands dedication and discipline, you can’t produce in many areas of your life. The best of us produce in one or two domains during a given period of our lives.

One way to find the thing or things that you are likely to be dedicated and disciplined enough to produce is to think about what you, for whatever underlying reason, find meaningful.

The other way is to think about those things which you find less painful to do than most other people. Perhaps you even find them pleasurable.

Taking these two approaches together, you can produce something where the meaning is worth the pain.

Feeling the pain

It’s relatively easy to evaluateĀ a repeat entrepreneur whose first company was successful. Although luck is always a contributor to a company’s success, the fact that the entrepreneur built a successful business shows that they also likely have a good feel for market opportunities and are able to build and lead a team to take advantage of these opportunities. You’re more likely to do something well if you’ve already done it well before.

But what about a repeat entrepreneur whose first company failed? On one hand, they have the experience of running a business and the learnings that come from that. On the other hand, the fact that the business failed might suggest that they’re not good at identifying market opportunities and executing. To understand the signal that the fact that they’re a repeat entrepreneur carries for their chances of succeeding with their new venture, you need to understand the reasons why the company failed. Was it the lack of a market, the entrepreneur’s inability to build or lead their team, luck, or something else? Your view on the reasons for the failure will determine whether the fact that they’re a repeat entrepreneur makes them more or less likely to succeed in the future.

While building up to this view, it’s useful to take into account one more variable. And that’s the extent of the entrepreneur’s reaction to the pain resulting from the failure. All failures are painful, and you can argue that some failures are more painful than others. For example, all else equal, a failure where you lose more time or money hurts more than one where you lose less time or money. And a public failure hurts more than a private failure.

However, what’s more important than the objective pain resulting from the failure (if there is such a thing) is the subjective pain that the entrepreneur feels. Depending on your character, you might feel much more pain from a private failure that you worked on for a couple of years than that which someone else feels from a public failure that they worked on for over a decade. Some people have such an aversion to the subjective pain of failure that they will go to tremendous lengths to avoid experiencing the same pain again.

This line of thought also extends beyond business failures. For example, the subjective perception that you have of some personal failures as a child, which is influenced by how those who raise you make you feel about your role in and responsibility for these failures, can also cause you to take action to avoid experiencing the feeling of similar future failures at all costs.

There’s a saying that “the harder you fall, the stronger you rise”. I think it’s actually “the harder you think you’ve fallen, the stronger you rise”.

Many great entrepreneurs think that they’ve fallen to tremendous personal or professional lows in their past. They’ve felt the pain so strongly that they will go to great lengths to avoid feeling it again.