Entrepreneurship and Pain Tolerance

A couple of years ago, as part of a health kick, I took up weight training. I quickly realized that this was something I had a genetic gift for doing well. As my desire to lift heavy things increased, it drove me to begin seriously training for competitive powerlifting. It felt more purposeful and interesting to work towards a goal, rather than simply “lifting weights.”

A few months into my training, I learned that one of the most respected powerlifters in the world, Matt Kroc, lived a short distance from me. In 2009 Kroc became the all-time world record holder in the 220lb class posting a 2551lb total via 1003lb squat, 738lb bench press and an 810lb deadlift. While inhumanly strong, he’s actually better known for being one of the most intense professional athletes on the planet, in any sport. He’s torn nearly every major muscle group in his body at least once (occasionally on video), invented the infamous “Kroc Row“, and beaten cancer while simultaneously training to beat the world record.

With a bit of Internet sleuthing, I tracked down his contact information and arranged a personal training session. Given his reputation, I showed up to the session completely unaware of what to expect–and I’ll admit, rather intimidated. But I discovered Kroc to be a very thoughtful and sincere person with a willingness to share an incredible amount insight into what it takes to be the best in the world at something.

At the top of the game, strength itself no longer becomes the deciding factor. Everyone on that platform has gotten strong through the same methods of years of consistent training and dedication. It’s also not about who wants it more; each person has the same reason for being there and is driven by the same dream. When that 1,000 pound bar is laid across their shoulders, it comes down to who can endure the most pain and still stand back up. And then doing it twice more again. It’s also about the pain it’s taken to get there: sticking to the proper diet, training through the inevitable injuries, and balancing the mundane demands of family life and career.

While I don’t have any illusions of becoming a top powerlifter, understanding this mindset has helped me as an entrepreneur. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to give up. Some days, the allure of being able to leave “work at work’ tempts me to consider updating my resume, especially now that I have a young daughter waiting for me at home. But like lifting, I work through the pain because I know, somewhere, someone else is giving up. If I can survive today and wake up tomorrow just a little bit smarter, eventually I’ll find myself at the top of my game too.