When things get hard and start to fall apart you have two choices: lean in or quit.
Quitting feels easy. You can give up, remove yourself from the situation, and find something else to work on. But if you run away you won’t learn or grow from the experience. But if you lean in and stay present you’ll let the situation inform. Any work worth doing is going to be hard. Any person who is trying to start a new company or spread an idea has to deal with the fear of failure. The discomfort of uncertainty is enough to stop people from even trying. But that is the nature of the work. If you’re pushing a new boundary in business or culture, it might not work (and that’s ok).
The good news is, you can train yourself to deal with the discomfort and practice leaning in.
Seneca, the richest man in Rome, one said “establish business relations with poverty.” Every month he would set aside a few days to practice poverty, and ask himself “is this what I feared?” The wealthiest man in the world would live as if he had nothing. Why? He knew that his wealth could evaporate overnight. He wanted to prepare for that potential while times were good, so if he faced the situation he could thrive.
For the past few weeks I’ve begun my days by turning the water in my shower to ice cold. It sucks. I don’t look forward to it. Actually, I dread the moment when I turn the water from hot to cold. It’s a hard thing to do. But I enjoy the challenge of starting my morning with something I fear. Every day is a success in that regard, and I’m training myself to lean into the cold and embrace discomfort.