The marketing campaigns for many everyday products are built around encouraging us to view the products as solid ways to avoid pain.  Consider Calgon bath products, for example.  Their slogan is: Take Me Away.  Their website is even 

Away from what? 

Away from our stresses, away from our pressures, away from pain.  We all have escape mechanisms or strategies for avoiding unpleasantness. 

Why do people avoid an annoying or troublesome whiner or blowhard?  Because they are painful to be around. (Heck, we even call them a “pain in the neck.”)

“Pain leadership” and punitive pain-parenting are, unfortunately, common motivational strategies.  Being grounded, no iPod for a month, a dock in pay, and the risk of being fired are all ways of communicating: If you want to avoid pain, do what I want you to do!  Reminders of past pain serve as motivators as well.   Coaches show players footage of a painful team defeat to inspire them to play their best so they won’t feel the agony of defeat again. 

We all want to avoid pain, but often we don’t fully consider the consequences of actions or inactions that will be painful in the long term. 

What is more painful to you: 

Self-Discipline or Regret?

If we can feel the future pain now in enough detail, then we will be compelled to do everything and anything to avoid that pain in the future – i.e., we will work toward achieving the goal.  Sometimes choosing to go through pain is smart, but it still smarts.  Paying our insurance premium is not painless, but most would agree that not having insurance would be more painful. 

“And there ain't nothing like regret to remind you you're alive.”     -- Sheryl Crow

Prospecting, dealing with demanding customers, or getting up to speed on new company products can be painful.  But there is also pain in not prospecting, not dealing with demanding customers, and not getting up to speed on new company products. 

Each individual's attitude toward pain varies greatly, depending on whether the person deems the pain useless or useful, unavoidable or avoidable, unacceptable or acceptable, even undeserved or deserved.  Unmet needs stay painfully in mind.  Unmet potential can be painful, too.  There is pain in leaving the status quo for the unknown, in risk-taking.  Therefore, it can be painful to progress. 

Some risks are worth taking, others not.  Each of us gets to decide.  As Progress Agents, we should be able to show prospects and coworkers (as well as ourselves) how there is more pain in not going through the pain of leaving the status quo, more pain in avoiding the unknown, more pain in the risk not taken. 

Offer the Promise of Pain Avoidance.  


Contributed by:  Dean Lindsay, Award Winning Speaker and Author of The Progress Challenge & Co-Author of Stepping Stones to Success   

Dean Lindsay, Sales and Leadership Speaker