I have come to believe over the years, through my personal experience and by observing others, that there is a small piece of advice – only 4 words – that if taken seriously will make you great at anything. It’s battle tested and it works 100% of the time. I’m not asking any money for it but if I did I would offer a lifetime money back warranty.

If, like in games, had one jar of hyperbole and I could only use it once in my life time then that would be the case. It’s the single most important advice you’ll ever hear, apply it and you’ll get instant small life improvements and guaranteed lifelong greatness in whatever you want to be great at. So here it is, 4 words:

Lean Into The Pain

First things first, I’m not talking about physical pain or any other unbearable pain. Cutting your finger off will not make you great at anything, maybe only on finger cutting and that isn’t that respected nowadays. When I say pain I’m mostly referring to discomfort but that wouldn’t make much of a title and I’m still left with half a jar so I need to use somewhere.

Leaning intο the pain means identifying all the issues that keep you from having a great relationship , a great job, a happy life, good health or any other thing that troubles you and working against them. You might think that this is what we all actually do, and yes we work against issues all the time, but only within our comfort zone carefully trying to avoid any pain. I know because I do it all the time:

For the better part of my life I was obese, weighing 30kg more than I should. I knew that I had to loose some weight but breaking up my relationship with food was painful. I did lean into the pain, started eating less calories than I needed, begun regular exercise and lost 26kg. I was also afraid of flying so I started flying lessons that eventually led to a pilot license. This very post is painful, I don’t have good writing skills and I struggle to find the words, let alone the fear of criticism.

I’m not trying to portrait me as a winner, I got some of my weight back, extreme weather conditions still terrify me when airborne and you’re already in pain from my writing skills. I’m only saying that what kept me going was repeating in my head “the pain you’re feeling right now means you’re doing the right thing, keep up”.

I also don’t want to patronize or question anyone’s happiness. If you have figured out everything perfectly in your life and go to bed with no troubled thoughts then bravo! It would be great if you could share how you got there.

Start leaning today.

If you have a friend that angered you don’t wait for it to sooth out, it never does, go on and tell him / her, have a heated argument, sort it out.

If you love someone don’t let it drift away, reach out, speak up about what’s troubling you, do the tough, painful, discussions.

If you want to stand up in a meeting and say something do so. If you fear you’ll get mocked then lean into it, say something stupid, learn from it and say something smart the next time.

If someone criticized you for your behavior look into it. Go see a therapist, talk to friends, frame it and improve it.

If you feel small in your current job role then develop yourself. Read books, seek coaches, mentors and take responsibilities.

It doesn’t have to be all at once, you can select a few or just one. Make sure your life is filled with some kind of growing pain that you’ve selected to lean into it.

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One thought on “How to be great at anything

  1. George, you are so right about the pain. Any change of habit that changes a person’s neuronetwork hurts-it’s 100% physical pain. And it’s always worth the risk. I recently started daring to reach out to what I previously thought was the unreachable-waiting to see where it takes me! Your writing skills are just fine fyi

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