Sooner or later, you’ll ask for something or read something or expect something and you won’t like what you get. You’ll feel like I wasted your time, wasted your money or didn’t meet your expectations.
Not just me, of course. Everyone. Even you. You will disappoint someone, and the organizations you depend on will disappoint you. Expectations keep rising, and promises keep being made. We keep bringing more magic into the world, but rising expectations mean that there’s more disappointment as well.
That’s part of the deal of being in the world.
The alternative, I’m afraid, isn’t to choose a path where we make everyone happy and always exceed their expectations. Nope. The alternative is to hide, to fail to engage and to produce nothing.
A pretty easy choice.
The pain of a lousy boss, of careless mistakes, of insufficient credit. The pain of instability, of bullying, of inadequate tools. The pain of poor cash flow, corrosive feedback and work that isn’t worthy of you.
Pain is part of work. And it leads to two mistakes.
The notion that you can trade your way out of pain.
"If I just get a little bigger, a little more famous, a little richer—then the pain will go away."
This notion creates a cycle of dissatisfaction, an unwillingness to stick it out. There’s always a pain-free gig right around the corner, so screw this, let’s go try that.
The truth is that pain is everywhere, in every project and in every relationship and in every job. Wandering from one to another merely wastes your energy.
The other choice, though, is:
Embracing your current pain and avoiding newer, unknown pains.
This is precisely the opposite mistake. This leads to paralysis. Falling in love with the pain you’ve got as a way of avoiding unknown future pains gets you stuck, wasting your potential.
As usual, when confronted with two obvious choices, it’s the third choice that pays.