If you haven’t willingly put yourself through something painful, I’ve got news for you–you’re not living yet. Think about this for a moment. If every painful experience simply happened TO you, yet never of your own command, you’re just a passenger my friend–sitting in the back, strapped between the belts of a carseat facing the rear windshield. If you want to be a driver you’ve got to grow some balls and get in the driver’s seat, period.

This locker room pep-talk is brought to you by the world. Welcome to it, because it’s right here in your face, whether you like it or not (and honestly, it can be a real b*tch). But the world isn’t all bad. Actually, it’s got a lot to teach us about where the focus of our minds and lives are most effective, and where that focus often gets misplaced and becomes ultimately useless.

One of the most useless focuses we can have, really, is the fear of pain or failure—which ironically are vital ingredient in sipping that kick-ass cocktail of awesome that’s likely to transform you from who you are now into who you want to be tomorrow. (Results of kick-ass cocktail may vary based on individual merit. Past results of becoming awesome are no guarantee of future awesomeness or affiliated outcomes of aforementioned awesomeness. One-day time lapse between current-self and future-self not typical and are only reflective of that person who reigns supreme in the realms of awesomeness and masochism). 

Look, the world in which we live has no mind of its own. It has no agenda or ordered events, and observes no boundaries which reflect those limitations imposed by fear. No inherent fear, anger, or prejudice exists in the world; these things are injected–by humanity–but they are not of the world itself. In this way, you must be like the world in which we live; you must be fearless. This is where the journey of improving the self begins.

Personal growth is exactly that–it’s personal. And in that process, your participation means having to “get real” and face those shitty things about yourself you typically lie about during that interview question where employers ask you about your weaknesses. Because let’s face it, you’re not a perfectionist and you’ve never in your life had to have a intervention for working too many overtime hours because you “care too much”. Getting down to the nitty gritty of self-improvement means acknowledging your addiction to procrastination and admitting that you’re kind of a wuss.

The hardest part about becoming better than you are is that it requires you to become an active participant in your own demise, in a process of making choices which deliberately sacrifice your regular comfort-zone. You’ve got to be willing to break whatever image you have of yourself over and over again. It’s this constantly painful molding and remolding that allows you to continually outgrow former boundaries. And through it all, you’ll have to allow yourself to keep arriving at this moment, this “sanity checkpoint” to ask yourself the essentials:

What am I REALLY doing?

Is this what I REALLY want?

Does this even make sense?


                                 Who the F*ck are these people?

That last question is probably one of the more vital, yet elusive ones. It alludes to the company you keep. If you’ve been spinning your wheels for a long time with very little traction, take a look at the people around you. Are they motivating you, or feeding your idleness? Changing for the better is as much about environment as it is about actions taken within that environment.

This was a discovery made in the heat of the moment—a 90 degree moment to be exact. As I was nearing the end of a three-mile run, I was suddenly hit by a brick of fatigue and a disembodied question that floated through my consciousness: Why do I do this to myself? 

The question itself seems undoubtable subjective, the uniqueness of each mind finding one way or another to justify its own choices. But, if taken in the general sense, that is, asking of ourselves: Why do we put ourselves through all of this pain and misery, ever? The answer seems simple enough: Because we have to. 

There’s a certain element of masochism necessary for self-improvement. That is to say, the actions taken to attain ever higher levels of performance require that one be a willing participant in their own pain, being both the executioner and the victim. It’s a complex relationship, but if you can manage to get that part down, you’re probably closer to a bigger, better you than you think.

Also published on Medium.