Huh?  Find the pain to find your power?  What is that supposed to mean?

Here’s the quick explanation:  Whether you are seeking to live your life more effectively or lead a company more powerfully or pursue your creative interest with more passion, you need to tap into the truth buried in uncomfortable realities that the human mind tends to skip right over.

That’s understandable, right?  Who wants to dwell on negatives?  The problem is that skipping over the tough, complicated, even anxiety-provoking stuff will deprive you of at least three kinds of important knowledge:


  • What trouble might you have in bringing your goals and plans to fruition? What doesn’t “fit” with the optimistic view of your project or company or relationship or different path forward in life?  To fix these things, you must SEE them, not be in denial about them.
  • What problematic aspects of this situation reflect similar situations you have encountered in the past? Often, when we’ve lived through trouble spots, we don’t want to recall them.  But that can condemn you to repeating the past, rather than learning a lot from it and overcoming it (in a big way).
  • What difficulties do you accept as realities and how can they galvanize your courage and commitment to solve them?


Whether you are the founder of a new venture, a parent trying to shed the less admirable elements of parenting you yourself experienced or anyone trying to become the most powerful person you can possibly be, seeking out the painful aspects of the narrative—the story—at hand will greatly increase your chances of success.

Let’s take founding a new venture as an example.  It will pay extraordinary dividends to think about past partnerships and projects that did not go well.  Why?  Because you may well identify patterns of thought, emotion and behavior common to your participation in those projects that are worth avoiding this time.  These insights may lead you, for instance, to be more selective about who joins your new venture, how you convey your vision to those who come aboard or how you give them feedback.

The same process of inquiry—looking for the potential pain points and proactively solving for them—is also true when contemplating another marriage.

The same is true when thinking of how to manage your money.

The same is true when reaching out for a new friendship or attempting to repair one that has fractured.

Looking for pain points and solving them proactively is not the opposite of optimism; it is part of rational optimism.  Because it is testimony to your intention to actually make something work to bring into clear sight any hurdles hiding in the way.

Dr. Keith Ablow


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