We’ve all heard the phrase “no pain, no gain” used in conjunction with working out. It’s an axiom that has easily withstood the test of time and it reminds us to crank up that elliptical machine at least three more levels and to stay on it for 15 more minutes than we had originally planned. And if we actually push past that, the resulting sense of accomplishment feels pretty amazing. Right?
But, “no pain, no gain” has another application relative to learning that I have found equally important. If you’re impatient like me, it serves as a pointed reminder that you can’t rush the process. So, you might as well embrace it and put in the work if you’re tackling something new.
I’ll admit — I don’t like being the newbie — at anything. Knowledge and experience are so comfortable! Aaaahhhhh … mastery of our own domain. But comfort is the opposite of pain and if you want to grow as a person, you better make peace with uncomfortableness. There’s just no getting around it; it’s the only path to the other side.
Last semester I found one of my classes particularly challenging (high workload, advanced math and a boatload of theory). About half-way through the class, I completely bombed one of the quizzes (despite studying extensively). Frustrated, I asked the professor for help. His response back to me was that I needed “to struggle through the learning. After all, learning only happens when we’re pushed out of our comfort zones and are forced to internalize the new knowledge.”
Although that wasn’t quite the answer I was looking for, I got it. Point taken. I went back and reviewed the material (I reframed what it was he was asking us to learn), realized I had jumped into mathematical calculations unnecessarily (my eternal downfall!) and learned the theory behind the subject matter we were studying. He was right; because I had to do this by myself, I much more deeply benefited from the learning process. And frankly, figuring it out for myself and nailing it on the final exam … well, rocked.
So, is it any wonder then why small children think learning is so much fun? Do what they do: look past the “pain” (eh, big deal) and stay focused on the “gain” (yeah, baby!).
Evening UST MBA student Larissa Rodriguez is a full-time marketing and communications executive.