> The Temptation of Pain: Taking On a Challenge With Every New Bite...
The Temptation of Pain: Taking On a Challenge With Every New Bite...
| Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2009
When I was a boy of about eight years old, my dad put a jar of jalapeños on the kitchen counter in front of me. It wasn't a big jar (and for that matter the chilies were smallish as well), but it contained a big challenge. The jalapenos that were in that jar were the standard meal accoutrement for my father. I had often seen him place two or even three on his plate, alongside pretty much anything he ate. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say he ate the jalapeño chiles for breakfast as well. And, as he put it that particular day, "Today, I make you a man." Of course, to me, that meant, "Today, you'll experience pain like never before..."
And I wasn't incorrect in my estimation. For a reciprocal reward of 25 cents, he offered me one jalapeño. Eat it, he would suggest, and I'd never go back.
I look back at that day, and the precise (and almost demoralizing) moment that the sheer hot, burning sensation of the chili hit my mouth...and my determination to actually finish the entire chile that followed...and I realize one thing: If I hadn’t taken on that challenge, no matter the absurdity of it, I wouldn’t know what the dare or real rewards of the test meant.
Never mind the audacity of the proposal to eat something so hot it would make me cry. Never mind the fact that the massive size of the challenge in my young mind would never...ever...equate to getting 25 cents in return. Never mind that the challenge came to me when I never would expect it. Why would I? The fact was that the test was there...waiting for me to accept or deny...silly in its own existence, yet promising in the accomplishment that would reveal itself after the fact. The simple fact is if I had not taken on biting into that jalapeño that day, I would not know otherwise.
And you know what? My father was right. I never did turn back. I enjoy the chiles with any meal these days...almost. And with the estimation of whether I “became a man” that day because of eating a chile notwithstanding, I importantly learned something else as well: I am unafraid of challenge – or the strange, silly proposal form it often comes in.
The moment of clarity that was presented to me (even upon reflection of such a small endeavor) was significant in long-term ramifications. It taught me how to deal with challenge head on...to confront it rather than deny it...knowing that no matter how small or large the challenge might seem, I'd never know the glory or defeat of it until I did something about it.
As you think about your challenges in your business, life or relationships...do you shirk in response? Or do you take a bite, knowing that yes, there may be pain, but unless you do “something” there may never be “anything” otherwise?