Embrace the Suck
People often ask, "What do you want out of life?" The responses you get are pretty standard.
"To have a good job."
"To have a fulfilling career."
"To have that special someone who I love and loves me."
"To have a happy family."
"To have good friends."
"To be healthy."
"To be thin."
"To be physically fit."
"To look good."
"To be financially secure."
"To feel safe."
"To be happy."
Those are all good things, but that's the easy question. Here's the real question: What are you willing to sacrifice to get those things? What pain are you willing to endure to achieve and maintain the things in your life that you say you want? Everything costs you something, be it time, money or attention, so what suck are you willing to embrace to get what you want?
Have you every seen someone play "air guitar" to their favorite rock song? They mimic the movements of their favorite guitar hero to a tee. However, throw them a guitar and have them actually play the song and they would sound like crap. It turns out those random lightening fast finger movement aren't so random!
If you want to learn how to play the guitar, it will take a lot of practice. To get really good you'll probably need to hire a teacher, buy a guitar and spend hundreds and hundreds of hours practicing. Most of this time spent practicing (at least at first) you will sound like shit and suck! Not to mention your fingers will really hurt. For the first several weeks, your fingertips will feel as if they are about to bleed, your hands will cramp and your fingers are required to move in ways you won't think are physically possible. You practice and practice and your fingers just don't move well enough to play that Van Halen song you dreamed about for so long. However, if you stay with it long enough, you will slowly begin to hear progress. You trade your pain for something else. If you don't embrace the pain, you'll never achieve the happiness of jamming like a rock star! It's almost, the more suck you enjoy, the better you will be. The more pain you are willing to endure (to a point) the more success you will have.
All of that money and time you have spent doing this could have been spent to do something else. The "pain" of all of this practice has been transformed into the happiness you feel when you pick up that guitar and rock it out like Jimmy Page. The satisfaction from the feeling of belting out a tasty groove and seeing people's faces light up with pleasure at your performance can make all that pain and sacrifice seem worth while. You would have never gotten there if you didn't embrace the suck.
This same analogy could be used for pretty much anything worth while in life. There is a certain amount of pain and sacrifice attached to anything that is worth having. If you want a good relationship you have to risk being vulnerable. In order to enjoy the good times, you really have to work though the bad too. If you want to have a successful career, you have to embrace the pain of hard work, often long hours, sacrifice and putting yourself "out there."
As if embracing the suck to get what you want wasn't enough, remember that you can't do or have "it all." I know you're thinking that you know that already, but really, you can't. Really, I mean it, you can't. You are going to have to balance what suck you will have the time, energy and finances for vs. the happiness that will be extracted from that pain. That said it really isn't a question of what do you want, that's easy, I want it all. I want all of those things listed above AND a whole bunch more! The real question is what pain are you willing to endure? What suck are you willing to embrace to achieve what you want?
If you want that hot bod, you will have to trade it for pain and suck in the gym and diet department. If you want that happy family, well that will take a lot of sacrifice in other areas of your life. If you want to be your own boss, you'll better enjoy the pain of the process that it will take to get and stay there. As a professional photographer buddy of mine says to people who think he has it so good. "Yea, I'm self employed, I get to pick any of the 80 hours a week I work."
If you want those awesome ninja like moves of Jason Bourne or Laura Croft what pain and suck are you willing to endure to train to move like that (not to mention hire a bunch of stunt men to help you look cool?!). If you want to get good at Krav Maga, Ninjutsu, Silat, MMA, BJJ, or any other martial art, how much pain, sacrifice and suck are you willing to embrace on a constant basis to achieve the level you want?
The people who I know and respect in various fields have learned to enjoy the process, they have embraced the suck so much and so often, that they are now masters of their field. The really good ones make the process sustainable and not harmful to themselves or others. But wait, there's more! They have also learned balance. They know how to balance out all of the areas in their life, rather than trying to "have it all" and ending up with nothing. We'll talk about balance and priorities on my next post! For now, think about this:
Knowing what you want in life is much easier than knowing what suck are you willing to embrace to get those things!