The Unexpected Benefits of Walking the Harder Path
In business and life, it is the struggle that unlocks your full potential.
The first two quarters of 2018 were my toughest yet.
Our company's early success online generated a flood of counterfeit sellers -- which hurt sales, led to an expensive lawsuit and hurt cash flow. During the same time period, we launched a new product in a new marketing channel and endured some painful growth experiences. I made many mistakes, dealt with plenty of failures and faced hard decisions about the company's future.
Despite these setbacks, the territory wasn't unfamiliar.
From an early point in my entrepreneurial journey, I've deliberately chased the struggle. I've craved a challenge ever since I realized how much faster I grew after overcoming barriers. Chasing instant gratification doesn't produce the same result.
I urge you to become comfortable with the struggle. You'll not only expand your capacity to tolerate pain but also acquire critical skills that lead to self-awareness and success.
1. Develop impeccable time management, insane productivity and intense focus.
Having a great idea isn't enough. You must take action to pursue your goals, and that takes time -- your most valuable resource. You can't make more of it, so you'll have to make the most of what you've got. Here's the simple truth: When you've more work than time, you must be productive or you'll fail. Placing ridiculously challenging deadlines on yourself will force you to maximize time and gain an unfair advantage over everyone else.
Self-induced struggle helped me harness extreme productivity to go further (and faster) than I ever could've imagined. My business started as a side hustle. I'd hit a ceiling in my climb up the corporate ladder, and I wanted to retake control of my career. Launching an entrepreneurial venture exploded my workload, but I refused to accept I couldn't scale a seven-figure business in less than two hours a day. Instead, I turned my packed day into an incentive to master productivity and focus. I transformed my rigid time limits into an advantage. I removed unnecessary distractions and doubled down on routines, strategies, and principles that allowed me to do more with less. There were other benefits, too. I learned to delegate quicker, systemize sooner and ask better questions.
2. Build resourcefulness through survival instincts.
Ever faced a problem you had no idea how to fix? Ever had to secure a big sale to save next month's payroll?
When you're forced into a corner (and losing isn't an option), you have no choice but to innovate, challenge convention and think creatively to find a solution. Struggle unlocks incredible resourcefulness, and that's no accident. You're forced to level up and find a way -- even when all your options seem closed. Your brain performs an incredible feat in these situations: It considers ideas that wouldn't even be on the table under normal circumstances. It unlocks evolutionary principles of stress and survival, accessing enhanced human capacity.
Those same conditions faced leaders at Vault, an enterprise-grade wallet disrupting the cryptocurrency space. Four months ago, the company was on the brink of failure. Competitors had a head start, resources were slim, and the team was losing hope. Instead of caving in and adopting conventional growth strategies, Vault pivoted. Leaders started white-labeling its product to service established platforms -- something no one was doing with a product of Vault's caliber. The company retained greater equity, built up near-term cash flow and gained access to thousands of customers with the ability to help Vault perfect the product it wanted to build in the first place.
3. Unlock the passion that fuels you, regardless of obstacles.
Ever noticed how rock-bottom moments are a catalyst for massive breakthroughs? Struggle has a transformative power to unlock passion and purpose. It helps you discover the fuel that makes fear obsolete and defines core values that empower you to never give up. Hardship forces you to dig deep and figure out what you're fighting for. You won't gain understanding into the deepest parts of your soul when everything in your life is amazing. Clarity is a gift reserved for people who have decided to transform pain into a lesson.
John Israel is best known for the Mr. Thank You Project -- an experiment during which he wrote five thank-you cards a day for an entire year. To make it harder, he wrote no more than three cards to the same person. This self-induced struggle forced Israel to explore appreciation at a deeper level and allowed him to refine the impact he wants to have on the world. This dedication revealed to Israel his ultimate mission: to elevate the level of gratitude on this planet by 1 percent. He hoped his project would inspire the 74 million thank-you notes needed to get there. Could Israel have discovered this mission without the challenge he created for himself? It's possible, but not as likely.
Condition yourself to outlast pain.
Taking the hard road is uncomfortable, but it brings uncommon rewards. If you can outlast the pain, life will open up to you in extraordinary ways.
Throwing yourself into the deep end will develop skills that transform your ability to navigate uncertainty. When you're more excited by the potential for growth than the immediate discomfort of struggle, you become someone who can withstand failure. You know that the excitement of learning will follow. Sure, you'll get bruised in the arena. But delaying your gratification will lead to a huge payoff. Every win compounds your confidence until you believe you can do anything.
Next time you hit a roadblock, don't opt for the easy way out. Push your limits and embrace the struggle. Choose the harder path and unlock your full potential. I promise you'll never look back. You'll start craving it, just like I do.
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