No Pain, No Gain

Sometimes you have to do something you hate to create something you love.

Saint Augustine was one of the greatest saints of all time, but he wasn’t always a saint. He had his own chapter of shameful living. He knew he was wrong, and he knew that he should change. So he would say “Lord, make me pure,” but then his nerve would fail, and he would add, “but not now.”

A lot of us are like that. We know we should change, and we know those changes will create something far better than we presently have. But we don’t want to go through the pain and discomfort to get there.

So we delay. Or we fool ourselves into thinking that someday we’ll actually do the things we hate to create the things we love. We’re like the old saying that says: “He was going to be all a mortal should be, tomorrow… All that he left when living was through was a mountain of things he intended to do.”

David Ulrich gets more specific in his book, Human Resource Champions. He asks, “What percentage of people on Weight Watchers reaches their target weight? The answer? 5%. What percentage of people maintains their target weight? 1/2 of 1%. What percentage of people stops smoking and never starts again? 17%. And what percentage of re-engineering efforts is judged successful? 25%. His point is obvious. People often refuse to do the things they hate to create the things they love.

How can you get beyond that? What can you do? ACCEPT THE FACT THAT ALL CHANGE, EVEN GOOD CHANGE, IS ALMOST ALWAYS PRECEDED BY UNPLEASANT NECESSITIES. That’s just the way it is. You can say that’s unfair. You can say you don’t like it. But that’s just the way it is. So get over it.

It’s like the story one of my audience members related to me. She said her teenage daughter had just received her first paycheck, but her daughter was complaining that it was less than it should have been. The mother carefully explained how the state, federal, and Social Security taxes were subtracted from the gross pay. But her daughter only complained more vigorously. She said, “Mom, you don’t understand. I didn’t give them permission to take those things out of my check.”

No young lady, you don’t understand. The good things you want, the good things your paycheck will purchase, is almost always preceded by unpleasant necessities–such as hard work and taxes.

It’s the same with a lobster. Think about it. How does a lobster grow bigger when its shell is so hard? The lobster sheds its shell at regular intervals. When its body feels cramped inside the shell, the lobster looks for a place to rest while the shell comes off and the pink membrane just inside forms the basis of a new shell.

But no matter where the lobster goes for the shedding process, it is vulnerable. It can get tossed against a coral reef or eaten by a fish. In other words, the lobster has to go through some unpleasant necessities before it can grow.


In most cases, you’ll get discomfort and distress. You’ll get some tasks that won’t be much fun. You’ll get to say “no” to some things that you really WANT

For example, if you decide to go on a diet, you get to pass up some foods you dearly love. Or if you decide to challenge a coworker whose work is not acceptable, you may get her defensiveness in return.

The point is–you need to be aware of what you get if you’re going to do the things you hate to create the things you love. And you need to be honest with yourself. Can you accept the things you’re going to get? Can you live with those things? If so, you move on to the next point.

ASK YOURSELF, “WHAT DO I LOSE IF I DON’T DO THE THINGS I HATE?” Most people think about the bad things they’ll get if they do the things they hate. But it’s just as important to be aware of the good things you’ll lose if you don’t do certain things.

Maybe you hate the financial uncertainty that would come with buying a piece of property. But if you fail to purchase the property, you may lose a great investment. You may hate to say “no” to a special request from a subordinate, but if you say “yes” you may lose the respect of your other subordinates—if they think you’re playing favorites.

If you take these three steps, you’ll find it a lot easier to motivate yourself to do the things you hate. Just don’t get discouraged. You won’t do it perfectly. You’ll probably have some setbacks. That’s normal.

Change is the result of a process, an often imperfect, stumbling process, but a process nonetheless. Change is not the automatic result of doing a few things you hate to instantly create the things you love.

It takes time. It takes guts. It takes discipline. But as Jerry McIntosh, a gifted entrepreneur in one of my programs, wrote, “While the brave will challenge the present, only the visionary may challenge the future.”


Decide on one thing you’d really love to create in your life. Then list all the things you’d have to do, even hate to do, to create that thing you love.

Now do one of those things you hate each and every day, and keep a record of those things. Do that for thirty days, and you’ll be delighted with your progress.