How To Use Pain To Get Better Results

You want the freedom to live fully, do work that matters to you and advance in your career. However, freeing up time and energy to do it can seem nearly impossible, especially when you find yourself consumed by critical details.

“It would be great if I had some A players on my team that I could trust,” you think to yourself, as you take time from your friends and family to get stuff done. You know you need to hand off responsibility, but “This project is too important,” you say. Next time.

You want to get out of the weeds, but you also want to make sure the job is done right. So, what do you do?

You begin by acknowledging the real challenge you face—fear.

Then, look for ways to strengthen trust with others in all areas of your life. By practicing in less threatening situations, you’ll uncover creative ways to help yourself hand off projects in more critical situations. Doing so not only helps free you, but it also gives them a chance to learn and advance.

Athletics, traveling, and even grocery shopping or cleaning can be excellent areas to practice handing over the reigns completely—trusting others to do their part, and offering support when needed.

Halfway into a three-mile open water swim, I stopped to grab a swig of water off David’s kayak. Almost as soon as my left foot hit the mud at the bottom of the bay, it cramped—hard.

(Quick side note: David is a brand-new friend and a professional kayaker, who is responsible for my safety in an upcoming five-mile swim to benefit innovation at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.)

With the water up to my neck, I used the bottom of David’s kayak to try and push my foot flat into the mud. Nearly tipping him over—but only managing to further cramp my foot—I grabbed my foot to ease the cramp. Nothing was helping, and it’s not like I could jump in his boat (there was barely enough space for him). I had to keep swimming.

“I’m going to try kicking this cramp out while I swim,” I said to David, hoping that by some miracle that would help.

Kicking harder made it cramp more.

The pain shooting through my foot was excruciating, and I didn’t know how to make it to stop. So, I listened closely to my body as I began testing out various intensities of kicking. The more I tried to reduce my kick, the more aware I became of just how tense I was.

Of course I was! It made perfect sense that being a mile-and-a-half from shore, with someone I’d only just met, in unfamiliar water, would be a little unnerving. I did, after all, learn to swim just four years ago.

The good news, and ultimately what I decided to lean on, was that I had every reason to trust David. Beyond his experience assisting other swimmers across far more dangerous waters, David is a retired Naval Commander. On top of that, he had every gadget known to man either strapped to him or on his boat somewhere, including a cell phone!

With all these realities running through my mind, I made my final pit stop, looked at David and said, “I’m so grateful to be out here with you.

“Why’s that?” he asked, curiously.

“Because I trust you,” I said, before shoving off for what turned out to be my final thrust to the finish line.

“You swam the second half at close to double the speed as the first half,” David said as we pulled up to the shoreline, and I realized my foot cramp had disappeared moments after that brief conversation about trust.

Thankfully, such painful situations are excellent reminders to challenge yourself to hand over the reigns as you head toward your freedom.

Pain can either cripple or empower you. Fortunately, you get to choose.

Here’s to your greatness,

Misti Burmeister

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