I.2.4 Success is the Capability to Suffer

 “Life is beautiful, but it’s also a daily struggle” - Simon Gronowski, Holocaust survivor 

Any successful entrepreneur has gone through a lot of suffering and agony while stubbornly pursuing her or his goals, to ultimately succeed. Steve Jobs experienced a lot of pain in his childhood, when he was put up for adoption because his biological parents did not feel up to the task of raising their own child. Similarly, Elon Musk was severely bullied as a child at school, and was once thrown down the stairs by a group of boys and had to be hospitalized. However, these early painful experiences created tremendous resiliency and capability to suffer in pursuit of a long-term goal for Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. The most successful people show a huge resilience to suffering. Both Elon Musk and Steve Jobs had to overcome huge obstacles early in life to end up at the top later in life, along the way redefining their respective industries. The same is true for everybody who wants to get at the top of their profession, for instance, musicians, even if superbly talented, will need to spend decades of ten-hour days practicing playing their instrument to become master performers.

We confirmed this insight in our own research. Having small pain along the way can produce more gain in the end. In an experiment using the Happimeter smartwatch we asked people to do a creative exercise, answering questions like “list as many unusual uses of your pencil as possible” while measuring their happiness with the Happimeter . We found that the people showing the least happiness during the creativity exercise came up with the most creative solutions – in other words, the more pain they experienced while doing the creative work the better was the output of their creativity work. Only when we feel the pain, when we have lost something, do we really know how much we value it. We get our happiest moments when something which we have been struggling to achieve, and which seemed almost out of reach, suddenly falls into place. The participants in our creativity experiment who struggled the hardest to deliver a superior test result in the end scored the highest by producing the best creativity output.


Popular Posts