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Do You Have the Pain Threshold to Make It Through Life's Toughest Situations?

We need to instill and adopt a mindset capable to withstand the harshest environments.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Recently, I came to an epiphany while speaking with Joe De Sena, the CEO of Spartan Race. I realized the subtle, yet monumental, difference between empowerment and pain threshold.

After discussing the impetus and ideas behind Spartan Race and its success, I came to one big conclusion: Spartan Race is one of the rare competitions that deal not only with athletic ability and prowess but more importantly, the testing of mental pain threshold.

Related: Why Only You Have the Power to Shape Your Life

It pushes the human body to the edge of its physical and mental limitations. It forces its competitors far beyond their comfort zone and into a mindset that few can tolerate.

Interns: Empowered or entitled?

Speaking of testing mental thresholds, I have an internship program where every summer we bring in 30 of the brightest young minds in sports and entertainment to intern for 90 days. We provide training and exposure to unique situations in sports and entertainment, as well as relationship capital that's unavailable anywhere else.

But, something that always concerned me was that many of our applicants come from referrals, meaning we use it as a business development tool to help out our family and friends with connections who want to learn about business in sports and entertainment.

The other half of our interns come from a pool of 2,500 resumes that we receive every month from students and young professionals around the country that are interested in the increased exposure, knowledge and awareness they gain here at Sports 1 Marketing.

Related: 8 Steps to Personal Empowerment

The biggest surprise I always got was that I felt people who were referred to us would be more entitled than the ones we chose from the finest schools and programs around the country.

But, the truth is, it didn't matter.

Whether they were a referral or whether we took them from our interview and application process, the exact same amount of interns were empowered or entitled. It gave me a deeper insight into the current development of our youth today. And it provided me with a better sense of how we can help them acclimate to be tough, upstanding members of our society.

Pushing through pain

There was one variable that I didn't take into account when comparing the two groups, which is pain threshold. I made this connection because one of my chief concerns is that while I grew up with nothing, my kids grew up with everything. I always thought that people who were poor were more empowered, but that's absolutely not true. You can be rich and entitled, poor and entitled, rich and empowered, or even poor and empowered.

Moreover, I started to think about how, and why, I teach my children to have the same pain threshold that I have. My children are all empowered and they're wonderful children, but how do I pass along that pain threshold? How do I give them the tools to be like the premier performers at the Spartan Races or the best action sports athletes who endure insanely harsh conditions?

It's of utmost importance to me that they are self-aware and capable of succeeding in challenging environments.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Setbacks, Obstacles and Defeats in Work and Life

Conditioning yourself to adverse conditions

Understanding that the most effective Spartan Racers can deal with pain and strife, we need to condition ourselves to have a higher pain threshold so that we can wake up at 4 a.m. and work until 11 p.m. every night. Not only that but to be efficient and adaptive in unique and uncomfortable situations. Our minds need to recognize there is no choice except to push through the discomfort and ultimately succeed.

There have been studies that show conditioning against pain works, with one Australian study showing that aerobic training will increase a person's pain tolerance. With the right mindset, it can be learned.

Use gratitude, empathy, accountability and effective communication to improve your mental toughness, with the inherent understanding that it will expand your awareness. Simple actions that have meaningful consequences. This will allow us to make a lot of money, help a lot of people and have a lot of fun.

Pain and power

Understanding the distinction between entitled and empowered is not only vital for ourselves, but also imperative for the betterment of the people around us. Once we acknowledge the distinction, we can empower and increase the pain threshold of those around us so they can reciprocate and help others.

The "Spartan Race" mindset is critical for all of us. Remember that pain fades, but empowerment is forever.

David Meltzer

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

David Meltzer, co-founder of Sports 1 Marketing and host of Entrepreneur's podcast, “The Playbook”, is a Top 100 Business Coach, global public speaker and three-time international best-selling author who has been honored by Variety as “Sports Humanitarian of the Year”.