Chalk Talk #12 – How to Suffer

For those of you who are reading this and are also familiar with obstacle racing, you may have heard the name Amelia Boone before. For those of you who don’t let me give you some background. Amelia is well, a crazy person. She has dominated the sport of obstacle racing events. Things like World’s Toughest Mudder, Spartan Race World Championships and Death Race. She is also a full time Attorney at Apple and participates in some ultra running as well. When doing an interview with Tim Ferriss, he asked her what makes her so good.

Her response put so beautifully,

“I’m not the strongest. I’m not the fastest. But I’m really good at suffering”

Today I want to break that down a bit because though she may not have realized it at the time, what Amelia said in that interview was far deeper and more meaningful than just about any other thing she could have said. “I’m really good at suffering”, are you? Are any of us normal people? It’s crazy to think that sometimes to be ultra successful in life all we have to master suffering. Sure you can be really smart and think of a crazy new fad diet. You could read up on every scientific study on health, wellness and weight loss. You could hire the top rated nutritionist, personal trainer, and motivational speaker in the world to be by your side 24/7, guiding you every step of the way. At the end of the day though, if you cannot learn how to suffer, you will never reach your goals, you will never get to where you want to be.

That’s just the key realization isn’t it? Not only do you have to learn how to suffer and do it well. You have to learn to embrace it, to love it. You have to learn how to love the pain, the lack of sleep, the feeling of exhaustion and the fear of failure. You have to love being broke, love taking losses and love the odds absolutely against you. You have to love suffering. You must love it because from suffering comes growth, and from growth comes progress, happiness, opportunities and success.

What I love most about this is that most people always concentrate on the things you have to do or a better way to do things. Ya know, like what to eat, when to eat. What supplements to take, what workouts to do, what works, what doesn’t. They concentrate on things like motivation, focus, determination. Most people will say that’s where your concentration needs to be, that is how to reach your goals in life. Very rarely do we actually concentrate on being good at suffering. That is why so many times we fail ourselves. That is why so many times we start something and don’t follow through with it. Like I said you can learn every trick in the book but without the will to suffer, it won’t ever get done. Without the will to do something you don’t want to do.

How then can I learn to suffer? 

I would suggest starting small as that is how most big changes in your life happen. First, make its something easy. Like commit to waking up 30 minutes earlier than you have to every day for two weeks. Why? Well because waking up to an alarm sucks. Now see yourself waking up 30 minutes earlier than you need to for no reason at all, that really sucks. Fill that time with some meditation or maybe even a quick workout, or read a book, or just sit and watch T.V if you must. Just get up 30 minutes early. Some of you may already have the alarms going off in your head telling you there’s no way that’s going to happen. Some of you may think it doesn’t sound too hard. Well wait till that alarm goes off tomorrow. Either way, that feeling you now have or the feeling you will have when you wake up, that’s called suffering. Get used to it, embrace it, love it.

Then, slowly make progress. The two weeks after that start implementing a workout routine 3 times a week for 30 minutes. Follow it religiously and do not allow yourself to miss a work out; that’s called suffering.

The two weeks after that, and the two weeks after that, continue adding a little bit more responsibility. Increase the length of your workouts, focus on your diet, read a certain amount of pages or books per week. Whatever it is doesn’t really matter. Just force yourself to do something that will help you make progress on your goals in life.

This will start to re-wire your brain, literally. It will teach your brain to not be so scared of suffering. It will teach you that you really are the driver of your body and you can make it go and do whatever it is that you want to. You start to feel empowered and eventually you will love the suffering.

One thing I will point out though. Whatever commitment you decide to make for those two weeks, you cannot fail it. Whatever your excuse may be, you must suffer through it. I don’t care if your sick, tired, broke or ugly. Push through it. Every time you don’t give yourself an excuse and you get through the suffering, you will become better at suffering. That is how you learn how to suffer, by suffering.

You’re not getting any younger.

Thanks for reading today’s post. If this post has impacted or inspired you in any way I would really appreciate any comments, likes and shares. Thank you all.





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