You have gifts you don’t even think are gifts
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
— Helen Keller
Most people look at the world with a glass-half-empty mindset.
They can’t see the power and benefits of what is already right in front of them.
Most people have amazing gifts. But for some reason, they cannot recognize them.
Many people see greatness in others, but find it hard to see anything close to that in themselves.
The truth is that we all have something that is irreplaceable.
If it were an asset that could be listed on a financial statement, then it would be one of the most valuable assets.
Valuable — because this aspect of us can create wealth, incredible relationships, joyful moments, and complete satisfaction.
The most valuable asset in your life is not what you think it is.
For me, it is simple.
It is my pain.
My pain is the strongest and most valuable thing in my life.
But not all pain — and not just any suffering. It is my dedication and commitment to learn from pain and to avoid certain kinds of pain that I experienced previously.
The pain of the past has seared into me forever lessons that I cannot forget. And I value those lessons more than anything else.
You should, too.
The Benefits of Pain
“There is no education like adversity.”
— Benjamin Disraeli
Years ago, I had physical pain that did not go away. I went to doctor after doctor, but no one could “fix” the problem.
Serendipity led me to a book title, and I knew I had to devour the book: The Gift of Pain, by Phillip Yancey.
The book revolves around the actual benefits of pain, which seems counterintuitive.
But it is true.
The book discusses Hansen’s Disease (a disease that some previously called leprosy), which causes its sufferers to lose appendages, to become disfigured, and to even cause paralysis.
The dangers of Hansen’s Disease occur because the individual loses the ability to feel pain.
When you cannot feel pain, you lose the ability to learn from your environment.
- You lose the ability to receive feedback from the physical world around you.
- You lose the ability to know when something is hurting you.
- You lose the ability to know when you should stop doing something.
- You lose the information that tells you to move, change, or act differently.
Yancey’s book describes how disfiguration comes from the loss of pain receptors:
- If you cannot feel pain, you do not know when your body is injured (cut, lacerated, bruised, etc.).
- If you do not recognize injury, then you cannot stop what is causing the injury.
- And you cannot mitigate any damage done (if you hand touches something hot, you do not even recognize that you should move it).
With no pain, you slowly deteriorate, unable to learn from your environment, and unable to learn from anything that is harmful to you.
We need pain in order to prevent our own destruction by the things and people around us.
Strength Comes From Adversity
“Adversity causes weak men to break, and strong men to break records.”
— William A. Ward
Most people don’t just dislike physical pain — they run from it.
But pain can be useful. And not just physical pain.
Suffering can heal us. Pain can be motivating. Our failures can propel us further than nearly anything else.
One of the great benefits of pain is that it can provide motivation to end the pain. The stronger the pain, in some cases, the stronger the motivation to end the pain.
“There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”
— Richard Bach
Pain does not only provide motivation. Pain, suffering, and problems can provide an education that nothing else can match.
In short, problems can be gifts, if we learn to recognize them.
I know this from personal experience.
Problem: The Injury. A hip injury when I was 15 years old caused the physical pain I mentioned above. It led to me being unable to play soccer — a sport that I loved for 10 years. I could not play soccer for my last two years of high school.
Gift: Because I was not playing soccer, I auditioned for a play, and started acting, which I had always wanted to do. And I actually started practicing martial arts, which helped with my injury. There was a gift in my injury.
Problem: The Pain. The martial arts helped with the injury, but it certainly did not “fix” it. For 10 years, I suffered such intense pain in my hip that every 2–3 weeks I could not walk. At times, my leg would collapse — seemingly without notice — and I would fall to the ground with a sharp pain in my hip that would not go away. Many times I could not sleep. In college, I remember wanting to jump out of the fourth story window as the pain consumed me.
Gift: For years, the only thing that dulled the pain and sometimes prevented it for longer periods was a 60 to 90-minute stretch workout. I performed the stretches twice per day — once in the morning and once in the evening. Frankly, stretching for 2 to 3 hours every day is boring. But I started reading while I stretched. I must have read hundreds of books in 10 years — religious texts, history, motivation, fiction, nonfiction, leadership, and more. Those books changed me more than anything else.
Problem: Friend Accused of Stealing. Years ago, a close friend was accused of stealing. I had nothing to do with any these activities. But because I was associated with this person, I was also investigated. At first, I did not even know what was happening. It was disorienting — I was asked odd questions and then very pointed ones. It was painful to see how the process affected me, my friends, my business associates, and ultimately, my relationship with my friend.
Gift: I learned so much from my friend’s experience. I learned how to manage a crisis situation. I learned that sometimes you have to take responsibility for other people’s problems — even when you had nothing to do with the initial problem. I learned how to forgive — which is not easy, especially when there is not only pain and suffering on a personal level, but also severe financial stakes. Most importantly, I learned the value of trust — once trust is lost, it is nearly impossible to get back.
Problem: Losing Law School Competition. In law school, I entered a moot court competition with a close friend of mine. We did great — until the semi-final round. We ended up losing because of one comment that I made. FYI, never tell a judge that he is “missing the point.” Judges don’t like that.
Gift: Losing taught me so many valuable lessons. I had the wrong attitude and mental posture. My desire to win was trumping my ability to represent my client. It was not about winning. It was about doing my best. Once I changed my attitude, I was unstoppable. And in the next competition, I did win. Losing created in me a hunger and motivation to win that I did not have before.
Problem: Blamed for Site Crashing. When I worked as the media manager for a large leadership development company, I was asked to drive traffic to our website. I came up with this crazy idea to promote a video that would be posted on our site at halftime of the NFL Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the idea worked too well. The website crashed from all of the traffic. Ultimately, I was blamed for the failure.
Gift: I learned a great marketing lesson: give people what they want. But give them to it in an unexpected way. Do not tease something and then never deliver. And most of all, make sure you have the technological expertise to make it happen. Plan all the way to the end, and execution is imperative.
Problem: No One Listens. On a previous job, I felt as if no one listened to my ideas. It was painful every day to present my best thoughts, actions, and strategies to the people around me, and then to have those ideas either be dismissed or ignored. It was especially hard when other people said the same thing as me — but people listened to the other person and not to me. Was I not smart enough? Was the idea bad? Did I need to grow? I knew I could provide value. I knew at least some of the ideas were good. Why didn’t people listen?
Gift: I learned one of the most valuable lessons ever about reinventing myself: people buy into you first, then your ideas. I needed to backup my ideas with results. Then, my words would carry more weight. It may seem unfair, but I had to stop avoiding reality. It is easy to speak up with good ideas. It is much harder to get results. Once you have results, then people will listen to your ideas more. Once people believe in you, they will believe in what you say.
Secret to Life
“Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.
Don’t wish for less problems. Wish for more skills
Don’t wish for less challenges. Wish for more wisdom.”
— Jim Rohn
Most people view adversity as a curse — as something that we have to dodge and avoid in order to move forward.
And when problems hit, most people succumb to the weight of the pain and are saddled by it. They can’t move. They can’t breathe. They can’t do anything.
But the truth is this: progress depends on our ability to turn adversity into triumph. Failure into achievement. Problems into gifts.
It might seem hard. It might seem impossible. Events might seem horrible. The pain may be too great.
But moving forward is not about avoiding pain. It is about embracing it and still moving ahead.
And if progress comes from pain, then it actually can be a gift.
Get to the point where you look for adversity. When it happens, embrace it. Accept it. And then ask, how do I turn this into a gift?
The gift of pain.
Call To Action
For years, I have studied reinvention and the ability to actually and permanently change.
If you want to learn the one lesson that has changed my life more than any other, and can absolutely transform your life, eliminate frustration, and crush anxiety, then check out my free “Daily Transformation Checklist.”