Raising the Pain Threshold

In an interview on business lessons, Elon Musk had a great advice as follows.

Starting a business, I’d say, number one is have a high pain threshold.

Alain de Botton also had something very similar to say on writing a great book:

Of many books, one feels, it could have been truly good, if the author’s appetite for suffering had been greater.

These lines are very similar to a post I wrote some time ago on productivity in one sentence which said: “Keep your head down and continue suffering the pain.”

With this concept clear, the question is if we can find a simple hack that can help us continue suffering the pain. The answer is yes and it comes from an interview I read long ago about a famous explorer of Antarctica. I do not remember what he exactly said but I remember the message as follows. He said that if the group would think about the hundred of miles they had to cover, they would never have been able to do that. However, they used to set their sights on a much closer landmark and continued travelling towards that point. Once there, they used to target the next post and continued the cycle.

In short, this is similar to breaking a large project into smaller and visible steps. Once we continue suffering the pain towards accomplishing this smaller goal, then the accumulation of all these small goals results in the completion of the larger project. This is why we often look back after finishing something really long and wonder with amazement how on earth we achieved that target.

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