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What I Learned in the Pain Cave

Most of you are aware that I’m mildly obsessed with physical activity. I’m a mediocre athlete, and should have much nicer abs for the amount of effort I put into working out (Damn you, Mt Dew). But that aside, five days a week I’m doing something. Crossfit, gymnastics rings, running, jiu-jitsu, mountain biking. It doesn’t really matter, I just need to keep moving to stay sane.

Almost every Saturday morning you’ll find a group of us at the bottom of the stairwell at my office. It’s dimly lit, gray, and has lousy air circulation. We affectionately call it the Pain Cave. It’s called that because when you’re sprinting up and down stairs with deadlifts, pullups, squats, or burpees mixed in, life gets really unpleasant. In fact, it just sucks. Like writhing-on-the-floor-can’t-breathe-can’t-walk-wanna-die sort of suck. But extreme physical exertion is a teacher, and an effective one. Here is what I have learned:

  1. Pain is good. Let’s face it, we rarely push our bodies or our minds that hard. We’re “busy” because we clocked some time at a desk job and then took our kids to baseball practice. When was the last time you really pushed yourself.
  2. Friends are a requirement, not an option.
  3. It doesn’t get easier, your brain just gets stronger.

Personally, point number two is the one that probably means the most to me, and easily translates to a business application. I like being in charge. I like calling the shots and taking responsibility for the outcome (good or bad). But when things get challenging, when you really have to overcome that business situation that could make or break your company, find a partner. Not just a boss, or co-worker, or friend, but someone who will stay up all night with you on the whiteboard figuring it out. Someone who will go deep into the Pain Cave with you no matter what the outcome may be. Those types of business partners become a different kind of friend. They become a brother or sister for life and will make you so much better than any of us could be on our own; not to mention enabling you to take your company to a whole new level of awesome.

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