Not long ago I was conducting an on-camera interview with a business owner, who was giving a testimonial on behalf of a coach who had helped him. When we began our conversation, he talked about how he had decided to launch his own graphic design firm, landed his first client, and, in his words, “…the rest is history. Here we are today.”
I felt compelled to gently challenge him on that statement. I know he was just using a common expression, but half the purpose of our conversation was for him to share—on camera—how my client had helped him lead his business out of some really difficult times. Despite what he was saying, indeed it was not as though he landed his first client, and the business just took off on its own. Rarely does this happen. Somewhere along the line, somebody has to pay a price.
Which perhaps is a fitting theme as we move through this Holy Week before Easter. It calls to mind a statement made by Jim Caviezel, (who portrayed Jesus in the film The Passion of the Christ, is the star of the CBS series Person of Interest, and is a devout Catholic) when he was addressing a large Christian audience (click here to see the video): “Everyone wants resurrection; nobody wants suffering. But can you have the gold medal without suffering?”
I think we all know the answer to that.
Indeed, the athletic parallels to this question are perhaps the most vivid. Let’s face it: in business, you can get lucky. It doesn’t happen very often, but once in a while, someone can open their doors, hang their shingle and without going through any real adversity, and sail into success and abundance. In sports and athletics, not so much.
“Everyone wants resurrection; nobody wants suffering. But can you have the gold medal without suffering?” —Jim Caviezel
The interesting point about the lucky business man: he may get lucky once; rarely does it happen twice.
Let’s say that man sells his operation for a nice price, and goes off on another endeavor. The second time around is not as easy—nor as fruitful—as the first. Suddenly there is suffering that he did not anticipate, nor was he prepared for it. And as a result, the outcome is vastly different. It’s happened.
The truth is that rarely do things turn out just as we plan them to be. And yet, it is that deficit between expectations and reality that marks the very definition of stress. How we get through it to achieve the gold medal depends largely upon how well we bear that stress, how gracefully we endure the suffering, and how we persevere.
There is no denying this universal truth—if you want the reward, you must pay the price. Many of you reading this may feel as though you are paying the price right now. Perhaps you feel as though you have been doing it for an eternity, and you are still waiting for your day of reward to come.
The irony: in many respects, that day has already arrived, because suffering itself can be its own reward (If you have a Bible, open it to the beginning of the book of James, and you will see.). Do we enjoy it? Certainly not! But if we recognize the gifts that suffering brings, and focus on a purpose that is greater than ourselves, it can steer our thoughts away from that being a victim to becoming a victor, even in the midst of suffering.
And if there is any real truth about history, it is that it repeats itself. I for one am thankful to be (at least somewhat) prepared.