Numb the pain, silence the teacher

Hello friends and welcome back to the Product in Public newsletter, where I give you an inside look at how I help companies attract capital and build better products.

Today I’m going to take a deter from talking about business

Before we get to today's newsletter, here’s some of the content I’m consuming that you might find interesting.

What I’m consuming

I’ve been digging in to Mike Posner’s content. If you don’t recognize the name, he was best known for his hit song, “I took a pill in Ibiza.” I used to enjoy that song and more recently came across a YouTube video of Mike playing it solo on an acoustic guitar. I must have watched that video three times in a row.

You may not know this, but I play guitar. After watching the video, I decided to learn how to play the song myself. It’s one of my new favorite songs to play.

As the YouTube algorithm does, it started feeding me other content of Mike’s. Including video from his own YouTube channel. Apparently, Mike has been a busy guy. He’s walked across America and summitted Mount Everest. All in an effort to fully live his life.

Check it out and see if you feel inspired. I sure did.

What lesson is pain trying to teach us?

Continuing with the Mike Posner theme, I decided to dive into his podcast.

In the most recent episode he interviewed his friend Alex Banayan, author of “The Third Door.”

The friends had a long discussion about happiness, including pains role in helping us find a more fulfilling life by acting as a teacher.

The phrase that stuck with me was, “Numb the pain, silence the teacher.”

Although you may not, I immediately agreed with the point that statement is making.

Let’s go back to a base layer of understanding pain.

When a child reaches for a hot stove is burned they learn not to reach for hot things. Lesson learned.

If you drink too much alcohol you will likely wake up with a headache. That’s your body telling you not to over indulge.

But how can pain be teaching us lessons when that pain comes from something out of our control?

I’ll give you two personal examples.

About seven years ago we lost my father to cancer. Over a ten year period he was diagnosed with five different types of cancer.

I spent the last week of his life at the hospital. That week I virtually lived there.

I have very, very painful memories of that time. And plenty of guilt.

My guilt centers around not spending as much time in his room as I could have. I needed breaks, from seeing him in such a feeble and confused state (he went septic) so I spent most of my time in the waiting room.

The pain, of course, comes from losing someone and all the thoughts about things you should have said or done differently in your time together.

As much as that pain hurt, it taught me a lesson.

To this day I refuse to leave anything unsaid between me and the people I love.

A few years ago, we lost my brother during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was my gaming buddy and only true friend, so that pain is still lingering.

When he called to tell me he was being put into an induced coma I said everything I needed and wanted to say (i.e. my lesson from losing dad) in terms of how much I loved him.

But, looking back, some of the pain I carry is from not being more involved in the decisions around the care he received. I didn’t agree with everything being recommended, and I should have pressed back harder.

So, I learned another lesson about speaking up.

The pain of losing both my father and my brother in such a short time was another lesson.

Our time with loved ones can be cut short at any time. Don’t take it for granted.

You might be thinking, “How cliche.”

You aren’t wrong. But, also, if you haven’t been through that type of deep pain (the only thing tougher I can think of is losing a child) then you just haven’t had an opportunity to learn the lesson yet.

These lessons don’t always have to come from periods of deep pain. Every day we all experience small amounts of pain, or inconveniences we equate to pain. But, we ignore them.

Instead, I’m encouraging you to stop and ask yourself what lesson this pain, this inconvenience, is trying to teach you.

Otherwise you silence the teacher.

P.S. If you’ve enjoyed this post, would you let me know? I’m finding that the things I enjoy writing about is shifting, but I want to make sure I’m adding value to you as a reader.

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