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About 15 months ago I started lifting weights for the first time in my adult life. Nothing too strenuous, but I wanted to develop a healthy lifestyle and thought that was a good step. But not knowing how to really go about it, I recruited a friend.

I’m so grateful for my friend who showed me the ropes. What I’m not grateful for is his approach. I joked early on that he wasn’t happy unless he was miserable after working out. But I’m not sure if it’s a joke…

Ultimately, however, certain pain after a workout is an indication of a good workout. Because sometimes pain means growth.

As we grow in our leadership, we are going to face situations that are annoying and painful. What’s the root of the pain? Good leadership is not void of pain. Good leadership understands the difference between beneficial (and necessary) pain and toxic pain.

So how do you know if pain is growing pain? Here are three questions to help you process growing pains:

  1. Does it make you address something that needs to be addressed? Your pain may result from a weak structure, or unclear communication. Lean into addressing the situation and reap the results later.
  2. Is the pain a result of growth? Maybe what you were doing last year or three years ago worked when what you led was smaller, but as you’ve grown, you need to re-evaluate. Pain because of growth still hurts, but gives you an opportunity to adjust and grow even more!
  3. Will addressing the pain point put you in a better spot? Are you ready to grow as a result of the pain? Push through, do what you need to do, and enjoy the fruit of your labor.

Ultimately, some pain is good pain. Is there a situation you’re walking through now where you need to reframe the pain point from negative to understanding it’s a positive pain? How does that change your approach and mindset?


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