Playing With Pain (Life + Business)

The part of Steve Jobs life that no one talks about is the hellish painful part.

After creating the Macintosh and its software with only 13 people, Jobs was summarily fired by the very person he recruited to help run the company.  Betrayed.

He created the most amazing computer on the planet, and was kicked out of his own company.  He created NeXT, finding little success.  And all the while, watched Apple go down a path of product confusion and cashflow atrophy.

We remember the Steve Jobs for his highs, but not for his lows.  Pain is something that’s not relished.

Pain defines us, because pain is inevitable.  Those who survive, those who win:  discover how to embrace unjust pain.  How to accept unfair pain.  Inevitable pain.

Jobs was asked back and saved Apple.  But the pain defined him.

The sh*t he powered through was the very manure that produced crops.  Manure isn’t the Disney-esque story the media loves, but it’s pain that can save us if embraced.

When Walking Through Hell – Keep Walking

It’s perhaps Winston Churchill’s greatest saying.

But unlike Jobs where computers, careers, and cash were at stake…thousands of lives were at stake as Churchill dealt with seemingly insurmountable odds against Adolf Hitler’s evil war machine.

World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history.  It took over 60 million lives on all sides.  For the United Kingdom, it claimed 450,900 lives.

Churchill never gave up.  He used Alan Turing’s code-breaking “Bombe” computer and algorithm, but had to allow the death of thousands of British because the U.K. couldn’t tip its hand…letting the Germans know that Turing and “Bombe” had broken the German’s secret Enigma code.

Lives knowingly lost…to win the war, not the battle.

Evil exists, unfairness exists.  Hell on earth exists in many forms.  But when walking through Hell…Churchill kept walking.  Accepted the pain.

Failure Is Not Final – It Is the Courage To Continue That Counts

When Tom Brady was down 28-3 in the third quarter of the SuperBowl against the Atlanta Falcons (no SuperBowl winning team has ever come back with a deficit of more than 10 points) all the odds were against Brady.

Statistically, it never happened until then.  But Brady created the greatest comeback in SuperBowl history with three ingredients:

  1. Short emotional memory (long learning memory)
  2. Bayesian influence (posterior probability of himself versus statistics of others)
  3. Ability to be present (playing each down on its own)

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys and Football Hall of Famer, said his college coach told him one thing he never forgot:

Football games are won in the fourth quarter.  

When you’re tired, when you’re in different kinds of pain (physical and mental).  

When pain is the only thing you can think about, accepting it and playing with pain is what defines us.

As we continue in life, business, Holiday seasons, and seasons of adversity, we all play with pain.  Keep walking through it, because pain is temporary.