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John C. Maxwell! 15 Golden Rules of Personal Development! Pain principle 

John C. Maxwell! 15 Golden Rules of Personal Development!

Chapter 8 Pain principle 

Good management of bad experiences leads to extreme growth

“Every problem tells a man who he really is.” — John McDonnell

How do you usually react to bad experiences?

Do you explode with anger?

Do you withdraw into your emotional shell?

Do you stay as far away from the experience as possible?

Do you ignore it?

John McDonnell once said,

“Every problem tells a man who he really is.”

What an in-depth look!

Each time we face a painful experience,

we understand ourselves a little better.

Pain can stop us on our way.

Or it can make us make decisions we don’t want to,

solve problems we’ve never faced,

and make changes that make us feel uncomfortable.

Pain forces us to face who we are and where we are.

What we do with that experience shapes us in the future.

A smile puts you on the right track.

A smile makes the world a beautiful place.

When you lose your smile,

you lose your way in the chaos of life. ― Roy T. Bennett



Recently, I came to know the story of Cheryl McGuinness,

who experienced the greatest pain of her life.

One morning at the end of summer,

her husband, Tom,

left for work early in the morning,

as usual, he kissed her before leaving.

A few hours later,

Cheryl got up,

took her son and daughter to school,

and went about her daily chores.

Then she got a phone call

from a friend asking if Tom had come home.

Then another call.

She knew something had happened.

When she pressed,

the friend finally replied:

“A plane was attacked by terrorists.”

It was the morning of September 11, 2001,

and Cheryl’s husband,

Tom, was an American Airlines pilot.

For hours, though the couple’s home was filled with friends,


other pilots

and parishioners from her church,

she could get no answers to her questions.

But when a van stopped

in front of her house

and the airline’s chief pilot showed up,

Cheryl knew what had happened.

Flight 11, of which Tom was the co-pilot,

was the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center building.

Tom and everyone else on the plane is gone forever.

Like most survivors of a terrible tragedy,

Cheryl dealt with the situation as best she could.

Some people manage very well

with bad experiences,

while others struggle very much.

According to experts, after the World Trade Center attack,

many people experience severe stress,

post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),


generalized anxiety disorder (GaD)

and substance abuse disorder.1

Despite enduring excruciating pain during the September 11 attacks,

Cheryl did a great job in this situation.

In Beauty Beyond the Ashes,

a book she published three years after the event, she writes:

“While it may seem unfair,


and powerless,

we We still have to live after tragedy happens.

We still need to fulfill our roles.

We still have responsibilities

to our families and others.

Many things can pause

for a certain period of time,

but it cannot stop forever.

Fair or not,

reality is reality.”

Cheryl fulfilled her role with determination and resilience.

She planned Tom’s funeral

And even shared a few words,

something that was beyond her comfort zone.

She takes care of her children.

She started to be the head of the family.

And she quickly learned to deal

with the difficulties of being alone.

For example, on the first Mother’s Day after the tragedy,

She brought her kind friends to an event they

thought would make her feel better.

That’s a mistake.

On Father’s Day,

she actively arranged that day to make herself

and her children as comfortable as possible.

Every new experience becomes an opportunity for personal growth.

Cheryl wrote:

“I am learning more every day.

The tragedy of September 11 forced me

to look back at who I am,

to face myself in ways I’ve never had to before,

to ask ‘What does God want from me?

What can I do,

with the power of God within me?

How does He use me to reach others?’

I am learning more about myself and God.

And I’m learning that on my own,

not through Tom.”

Cheryl says she didn’t realize

how lazy she had become until Tom left.

Before, her personal development depended on him.

Now she has to take responsibility for it herself.

One of the areas

where Cheryl developed the most was public speaking.

“Before September 11,

I had never spoken in front of a crowd.

That thought scared me.

When I shared a few words at Tom’s funeral,

I let my fears go for that day,


I was given a once-in-a-lifetime chance…

I never expected to speak in public again”

But people kept asking her to speak,

and step by step,

she developed her ability

to become a speaker.

She is determined to let her loss benefit others.

Cheryl’s children are grown up now.

She has remarried;

Her husband is Doug Hutchins.

And she is satisfied with her life.

She was asked about the tragedy on the 10th anniversary

of the September 11 events.

“It was a terrible day that I think no one will ever forget,”

she said, “in the ashes of the day.

That September 11th, I could stand up and say

that I am stronger than I was 10 years ago.”

That is what can happen

when a person has good control over bad experiences.

That shows the power of the Pain Principle.

Being grateful does not mean that everything is necessarily good.

It just means that you can accept it as a gift. ― Roy T. Bennett



What’s the difference between those

who thrive and those who live for the day?

In my opinion that’s how they handle problems.

That’s why I wrote Failing Forward.

I want to help people handle problems

and mistakes in their favor

instead of hurting them.

I want to teach people how to use bad experiences

as stepping stones to success.

I’ve never seen anyone say,

“I like difficulties,”

but I know many people who admit

that they have achieved the most success

while going through pain.

Here’s what I know about the bad experience:

I’ve never seen anyone say:

“I like difficulties,”

but I know many people

who admit that they achieve the most

when they are going through pain.”

Be the positive impact on the lives of others. ― Roy T. Bennett 


1. Everyone has problems

Life is full of ups and downs.

The problem is that most of us want

to be successful all the time.

It’s impossible,

no one can escape bad experiences.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons

why my talk titled “How to Do Good When Things Go Wrong”

has become so popular.

As the saying goes:

“On the elephant, off the dog!”

We can do everything in our power

to avoid negative experiences,

but they always know how to find us.

I like the saying:

“Running in the sun can’t escape the sun.”

No matter who you are, where you live,

what you do,

or what your background is,

you will have to deal with negative experiences.

As TV host and author Dennis Wholey puts it,

“Wishing the world to treat you fairly just

because you’re a good person is like wanting a cow not

to accuse you of being a bad person vegetarian.”

You must have realistic expectations

when it comes to pain and hardship.

You cannot avoid them.

“Wishing the world to treat you fairly just

because you are a good person is like wanting a cow not

to accuse you of being a vegetarian.” – Dennis Wholey


2. No one likes difficulties

Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman describes the problems he

and some of his fellow actors faced

during the difficult early days of their career as follows:

If someone told us we would be successful,

we would laugh in their face.

At this point, we can never be successful actors.

I’m a waiter, Gene Hackman is a porter

and Robert Duvall works at the post office.

We do not dream of becoming rich and famous;

We dream of finding work.

It was a time when we had terrible rejections,

and we hated being rejected.

So much so that we placed our 20x25cm photo frames

at the doors of the casting agencies,

knocked and ran away,

just to not have to see the outright rejection again.

So discouraged that

I thought about giving up

and becoming an acting teacher at a university.

No one enjoys having a bad experience.

That usually brings only pain.

But if they handle it well,

they can happily recount their own experiences later.

It will become a great story of overcoming adversity.

Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind.

Be led by the dreams in your heart. ― Roy T. Bennett


3. Very few people turn a negative experience into a positive one

Difficulties in life do not allow us to sit still.

They push us.

The question is,

in which direction will we be pushed?

Forward or backward?

When faced with a negative experience,

do we get better or worse?

Will those experiences limit or lead us to grow?

As Warren G. Lester observed:

“Success in life does not come

from holding a good hand,

but from playing a bad hand well.”

“Success in life does not come from holding a good hand,

but from playing a bad hand.” – Warren G. Lester

When faced with difficult times,

many people don’t know how to handle it.

Some seem to act on the motto

I’ve seen on a car fender sticker:

“When the traffic is jammed, take a nap.”

It’s a shame. Learning the Principle of Pain is essential

for anyone who wants to grow.

Most successful people will regard the difficult times in their lives

as key points in their growth journey.

If you are determined to grow,

you must commit

to taking good control of your negative experiences.

I’ll keep working until the end. ― Amancio Ortega



Everyone has their own pain folder.

You have your pain;

I have my pain.

I may not have experienced pain as tragic

as Cheryl McGuinness’s,

but I have also had many failures

and negative experiences of my own.

Here are a few pain points

that are beneficial for long-term growth:

• The pain of inexperience

– I expected instant success very early in my career

but I often stumble due to my immaturity.

I had to learn to be patient and gain respect

and influence from others.

• The Pain of Incompetence

– I counseled a lot of people early in my career

and did it badly.

That forced me to re-evaluate my abilities.

Only since I started helping people have

found my strength.

• The Pain of Disappointment

– ​​Margaret and I were about to adopt

but then “lost” the boy.

We feel down.

Six months later we adopted Joel,

it was the great joy of our lives.

• The Pain of Conflict

– A church I lead has experienced divisions among its parishioners,

and some have left the church.

It gave me a profound experience as a leader.

• The Pain of Change

– I told you about how

I changed organizations early in my career.

That meant I had to start all over again.

Although there were difficulties,

it gave me a lot of opportunities.

• The pain of ill health

– Having a stroke at age 51 woke me up.


I changed my daily eating and exercise habits.

• The pain of difficult decisions

– Wanting people to be happy

and making difficult decisions have nothing

to do with each other.

I know good leadership is about letting people down

to an extent that they can tolerate.

• The pain of financial loss

– A bad investment decision costs us a lot.

Selling your property to cover that loss isn’t fun either.

That has helped me to be more careful

while investing in venture capital.

• The Pain of Losing Relationships

– Struggling to reach my potential has pulled me

away from friends with no desire to grow.

As I form new friendships,

I have learned to forge relationships with growing people

who want to be with me on this journey.

The Pain of Not Being Number One

– I once followed a great founding pastor

who was loved as a leader.

For some people,

I never received the love and respect that he did.

That taught me a lesson in humility.

• The pain of moving

– My career forces me to be constantly on the road.

It taught me to value my family

and pushed me to make the most of my time with them.

• The Pain of Responsibility

– Leading organizations

and having so many dependents on me has required me

to think about the well-being of others,

constantly create new content,

keep schedules tight,

and Continually meet job deadlines.

This is very tiring.

But it also taught me a lot about priorities and self-discipline.

Wishing everyone happiness

and making difficult decisions has nothing to do with each other.

I know good leadership is about letting people down

to an extent that they can tolerate.

So what did all those painful experiences teach me?

It is turning difficulties into catalysts for personal growth.

Growth is the best possible outcome for any negative experience.

“In order to achieve goals you have not achieved

before you have to become someone you haven’t been before.” — Jim Rohn



Frank Hughes once said,

“Experience is not really the best teacher,

but it is certainly the best reason not to do the same foolish things again.”

If you want bad experiences

to keep you from repeating silly things,

I recommend these five actions:

“Experience isn’t really the best teacher,

but it’s certainly the best reason

not to do the same stupid things again.” – Frank Hughes


1. Choose a positive outlook on life

View of life” is a term used

to describe people’s common frame of reference,

the set of attitudes,


and expectations that people hold about themselves,

others, and the world at large.

It includes, for example,

people’s attitudes toward money,

assumptions about their health,

and expectations about their children’s future.

The product of any person’s attitude

to life is how they see things:

whether they tend to be optimistic

or pessimistic,

happy or sad,

trustworthy or suspicious, friendly

or withdrawn,


or timid,


or stingy,


or selfish.

If you can maintain a positive attitude,

it means that you are in the best position

to manage negative experiences

and turn them into positive growth.

Pioneering family systems therapy psychologist

and author Virginia Satir observes:

“Life doesn’t work according to common sense.

That’s life.

How you deal with life makes all the difference.”

You cannot control what happens to you in life.

However, you can control your attitude.

And you can choose to rise above your circumstances

and not allow negativity

to undermine who you are and your beliefs.

And you can be determined

to find something positive in the face of tragedy,

as Cheryl McGuinness once did.

“Life does not work according to common sense.

That’s life.

How you deal with life makes all the difference.”– Virginia Satir

I adopted a positive attitude

because I believe it gives me the best chance of success

while putting myself in the best position

to help others succeed.

I developed this mindset

by thinking in the following ways:

• Life has both good and bad things.

• Some good and bad things

I can’t control – that’s life.

• Some good and some bad will come to me.

If I have a positive life attitude,

good things and bad things will become better.

• If I have a negative attitude,

good things and bad things will get worse.

• So I choose a positive attitude.

At some point in your life,

you will get what you expect,

not always, but most of the time.

So why should I expect the worst?

Instead, I try to follow the idea expressed

by poet John Greenleaf Whittier when he wrote:

No longer forward nor behind

I look in hope or fear;

But, grateful, take the good I find,

The best of now and here.


I do not look to hope or fear;

In the future or in the distant past?

Instead, I hold on to great finds,

Preferably right here and now.

If you can do that,

you not only make your life more worth living,

you also make life’s lessons easier to understand.

Don’t let others tell you what you can’t do.

Don’t let the limitations of others limit your vision.

If you can remove your self-doubt and believe in yourself,

you can achieve what you never thought possible. ― Roy T. Bennett


2. Capture and develop your own creativity

There is a story about a chicken farmer

whose land was often flooded every spring.

He did not want to give up the farm

and move elsewhere,

but when the water overflowed

and flooded the chicken coops,

the farmer always had to work very hard

to get his chickens to higher ground.

There were years when he couldn’t keep up

and hundreds of his chickens drowned.

After the worst spring the farmer had ever experienced

and losing his entire flock of chickens,

he came into the house and said to his wife,

“I’ve had enough.

I can’t buy another piece of land.

I can’t sell this land either.

I don’t know what to do.”

His wife replied,

“Just buy ducks and raise them.”

The people who reap the most

from negative experiences are those

who find creative ways to deal with them,

like the farmer’s wife in the story above.

They see the possibilities

from the difficult problems they face.

“Life begins where your comfort zone ends.”– Neale Donald Walsh

Author Neale Donald Walsh asserts,

“Life begins where your comfort zone ends.”

I believe that creativity begins

where your comfort zone ends.

When you feel pain from negative experiences,

creativity gives you the opportunity

to turn that pain into fruition.

The secret to that is to use the energy from anger

or anxiety to solve problems

and learn lessons for yourself.

I experienced this many years ago

when I was invited by Lloyd Ogilvie to contribute

to The Communicator’s Commentary,

a series of 21 commentaries on the Old Testament.

Lloyd asked me to write a review

for Deuteronomy, and I agreed.

But I quickly realized that I was too subjective.

I am not an Old Testament scholar.

Trying to write that book was a terrible experience.

I went to Lloyd three times

to ask to cancel the contract,

and all three times he refused,

encouraging me to continue working.

The bad news is that I failed at it

and am very upset about it.

The good news was

that he refused to accept my refusal,

so I had to get creative.

I began interviewing biblical scholars

to gather their views.

And because my Hebrew wasn’t good enough,

I hired Professor William Yarchin to teach me Hebrew.

With all that work,

plus hard work,

I was able to finish the book.

And when all the volumes in the anthology were published,

I asked 20 other authors to autograph the book.

Today, that collection is placed in my book library

as a valuable asset,

When you have a bad experience,

instead of letting it discourage or make you angry,

try to find a way to let it lead you to creativity.

Do what you love,

love what you do,

and with all your heart give yourself to it. ― Roy T. Bennett


3. Embrace the value of negative experiences

President John F. Kennedy was once asked

how he became a war hero.

With his usual intelligence, he replied:

“That’s pretty easy.

Someone has sunk my boat.”

It’s always easier to see something positive

in a negative experience long

after it happened.

It’s hard to be able

to experience negative things in the moment with a positive mind.

However, if you can do that,

you can always learn something from it.

Inventor Charles F. Kettering,

who directed research at General Motors,

once said:

“You will never stumble if you stand still.

The faster you go,

the more likely you are to trip,

but you also have a better chance of getting somewhere.”

In other words, without effort,

there will never be progress.

Facing difficulties is inevitable.

Whether or not a lesson can be learned from

that depends entirely on the individual.

Whether you learn something

or not depends on your understanding

that difficulties present an opportunity

to learn and respond accordingly.

Facing difficulties is inevitable.

Whether or not a lesson can be learned

from that depends entirely on the individual.

Discipline your mind to think positively:

Discipline your mind to see the good in every situation

and look on the best side of every event. ― Roy T. Bennett


4. Make positive changes after learning from negative experiences

Novelist James Baldwin commented:

“Not everything we approach can be changed.

But nothing can change until it is approached.”

Often we need to go through a negative experience

to deal with the changes we need to make in our lives.

I know that’s true for me

when it comes to the health aspect.

As mentioned earlier,

I had a stroke at the age of 51.

Before that, I knew I wasn’t eating right

or exercising enough.

But I’ve never had any health problems,

so I’m just as cool as usual.

But on the night I had a stroke

I felt a terrible pain in my chest

and thought I might never see my family again,

which caught my attention.

It made me face the reality

that I needed to change my previous lifestyle.

You might say, I finally got the point.

And that’s the Pain Principle value.

It gives us the opportunity to change our lives.

A bend is never the end unless you don’t steer.

Most people don’t think about positive change

– they feel it on their own terms.

In the book The Heart of Change,

Harvard Business School professor John Anchter

and Deloitte consultant Dan Cohen explain:

“Behavior change is not about giving

for people to analyze to influence their thinking

but rather to help them see a truth to influence their perception.

Both thinking and feeling are essential,

and are found in successful organizations,

but the driver of change is emotion.”

When negative experiences create strong emotions in us,

we either face the emotions and try

to change or try to run away.

It’s an ancient, fight-or-flight instinct.

We need to practice the ability

to fight for positive change.

How can we do that now?

By remembering that our choices bring the pain

of self-discipline or the pain of regret.

I would rather live with the pain of self-discipline

and reap positive rewards than live

with the pain of regret,

which creates a deep and persistent pain within each of us.

Sportswoman and author Diana Nyad says:

“I’m willing to put myself in any situation;

temporary pain

or discomfort means nothing to me as long

as I can see the experience taking me to a new level.

I am interested in the unknown,

and the only way to the unknown is through breaking down barriers,

a process that is often painful.”

That’s the process Nyad went through many times

as she trained to break records as a long-distance swimmer.

In 1979, she swam from Bimini in the Bahamas to Florida.

She swam for two days.

Her record has been held for over 30 years

Next time you’re in trouble,

remind yourself that you have the opportunity

to change and grow.

What you do depends on how you react

to your experience,

and the changes you make are the result.

Allow your emotions to be the catalyst for change,

think of ways

to change to make sure you’re making good choices,

and then act.

Great things happen to those who don’t stop believing,



and being grateful. ― Roy T. Bennett 


5. Take charge of your life

I’ve said before that you need to recognize circumstances

that don’t speak for you.

They are external

and do not necessarily negatively impact your values

​​and standards.

At the same time, you have to take responsibility

for your life and the choices you’ve made.

Psychologist Frederic Flach in his book Resilience,

and psychologist Julius Segal in Winning Life’s Toughest Battles found that people

who overcome negative experiences do not become “victims”

and take responsibility for moving forward.

They don’t say,

“I’ve been through the worst thing in the world,

and I’ll never get out of it.”

They said,

“What happened to me was pretty bad,

but others have been even worse,

and I’m not going to give up.”

They never lament their fate or whine,

“Why me?”

And that’s a good thing,

because the word

“Why me?”

to “Woe to my body” is only a very short step.

Good people see the good and bring out the best in other people. ― Roy T. Bennett



It is nearly impossible to grow in any direction

without taking responsibility for yourself and your life.

I am reminded of an old song by humorous singer Anna Russell

that represents the attitudes of many in our culture today:

I went to my psychiatrist to be psychoanalyzed;

To find out why I killed the cat and blackened my wife’s eyes.

He put me on a downy couch,

To see what he could find.

And this is what he dredged up from my subconscious mind.

When I was one,

my mommy hid my dolly in the trunk.

And so it follows naturally

that I am always drunk.

when I was two,

I saw my father kiss the maid one day.

And that is why I suffer now – kleptomania.

When I was three,

I suffered from ambivalence towards my brothers.

So it follows natural,

I poisoned all my lovers.

I’m so glad that I have learned the lesson it has taught:

That everything I did that’s wrong is someone else’s fault.


I went to a psychiatrist for psychoanalysis;

To find out

Why I killed the cat and bruised my wife’s eyes.

He let me sit on the couch,

to see what disease I had.

And this is what he found out from my subconscious.

When I was one year old,

my mother hid my doll in a tree trunk.

And naturally I’m always drunk.

When I was two years old,

one day I saw my father kiss the maid.

And that’s why I have a habit of stealing.

When I was 3 years old,

I had to endure love and hate from my brothers.

Therefore, naturally,

I poison all those who love me.

I am glad to know that:

All the wrong things I do are the fault of others.

In the last few years,

I have done a lot of teaching and speaking sessions in China.

On their most recent trip,

conference participants were given an exercise in identifying their top values

​​using a pack of cards representing different values ​​such as integrity,


and integrity.

It’s an exercise developed and used frequently

by John Maxwell Company.

Thousands of people have done this activity,

they pick six values,

then the top two,

then the largest.

What amazes me is the highest defined value in China:


That said a lot about their culture.

It is not surprising that China has been making strong progress in recent years.

No matter what you’ve been

or are going through in your life,

you have the opportunity to grow from those experiences.

Sometimes it’s hard to see opportunity in negative experiences,

but it’s still there.

You have to willing to not only seek it,

but pursue it.

As you do, the words of William Penn,

the English philosopher and founder of Pennsylvania,

will encourage you:

“There is no pain, no fruit;

no thorns,

no throne;

no hardship,

no glory;


without a crown.”

Gratitude builds a bridge to abundance. ― Roy T. Bennett



1. Rate your attitude towards negative experiences in your life so far.

Based on your personal history,

which of the following best describes

how you have approached the failures,



and challenges that have caused you pain?

� I do whatever and everything

I can to avoid pain at all costs.

� I know pain is inevitable,

but I try to ignore it or prevent it.

� I know everyone goes through pain,

so I just endure it when it happens.

� I don’t like pain,

but I still try to stay positive.

� I process the emotions of negative experiences quickly

and try to find a lesson in them.

� I deal with pain, learn lessons,

and make changes proactively.

Your goal is to come from

where you are now,

wherever you are,

to make positive changes after negative experiences.

“Don’t ask for life to be easy. Ask for it to be worth it.”— Jim Rohn


2. Have you used negative experiences in the past

as a springboard to leverage creativity?

If not, use a current difficulty to figure out

how to become more creative by doing the following:

Identify the problem.

Understand your own feelings.

Lesson presentation.

Identify a desired change.

find ways to do it.

Get more data.

Perform a series of actions.

Remember, if you always do what you’ve always done,

you’ll always get what you got.

If you want to go to a new destination,

you need to take a new route.

You cannot have a million-dollar dream

with a minimum wage work ethic. ― Stephan C. Hogan


3. No vision, no matter how profound,

is of any value to you,

unless it involves changes you will make based on what you have learned.

Personal development must always be linked to action!

Take some time to recall the five most recent negative experiences

you’ve had in your life.

Record each experience,

along with anything you learned from it.

Then, assess whether you’ve decided

to change based on what you’ve learned,

and evaluate how well you’ve done in making those changes in your life.

Once you’ve rated each negative experience,

rate yourself on an A to F scale (A is best, F is lowest)

on how you handled those experiences.

If you don’t get an A or B,

you need to use the steps listed above to get better at this process.

“To attract attractive people, you must be attractive.” — Jim Rohn

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