4 Reasons You MUST Suffer To Succeed

This past Sunday our family went over to a friend’s home for lunch. Conversation was rolling, people were catching up, but not me. I was sitting toward the back of their living room enduring deep frustration. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t upset. I was suffering.

I’m a victim of passion. I live with such fierce vision, ideas, and desires that it actually hurts. My chest burns. My thoughts storm. My feet begin to tap. On many occasions I can’t sleep or I chase my thinking into the night. Or my mind becomes consumed with images of what could be. Images so real and so important that doing anything else at the moment seems irresponsible.

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If you look up the original definition of the word “passion,” you’ll find it’s defined like this: To endure suffering. The word was first used in the late 12th century to describe Christ’s willingness to suffer on the cross.

Since then, the word “passion” has been hijacked. Misused and abused. Reduced by a feel-good culture chasing simpler language. Today, passion is understood as “what excites you” or “what puts the sparkle in your eyes, the twinkle in your toes.”

But passion is so much more.

It is the willingness to suffer for what you love. It is an experience to be coupled with words like preparation, readiness, submission, and loyalty.

It’s one thing to suffer and be a victim; it’s an entirely different thing to be willing to suffer for a vision and become a victor.

When we discover what we are willing to pay for, we discover our life’s mission and purpose.

If passion is simply what makes you happy, you’ll quit doing it when it gets tough, when it becomes too risky, when you’re ignored and mocked. Your true passion is what you’re willing to do if it kills you.

So here are 4 points that will help you embrace, understand, and welcome suffering on your pursuit to success.

1. Success requires us first to obsess over a problem.

Passion is almost always rooted in the hatred of a current solution. If we look behind every great man and woman of change, we will see quotes of despise, frustration, and animosity toward the status quo. Their hearts thunder desperately for a revision.

We saw this with Steve Jobs. He hated PC. Not just the computer, but their entire way of thinking. He often said quotes like this:

“If, for some reason, we make some big mistake and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter a computer Dark Age for about twenty years.”

In an interview with Jobs in 2003, he uses words like “wretched” and “anguish” while describing the current solution to the phone industry.

Ultimately, without problems, Apple would have never been as great as they are. Steve needed problems to fight. He needed something to suffer for. It was this obsession for better that caused his brilliant alteration (the iPhone).

Critical Question: What problem do you obsess over? What current solution are you willing to suffer through to create revision? 

2. Without trials, we do not grow.

Similar to the way our muscular system relies on weight to strengthen itself, human emotions require resistance to grow. Often, the anguish inflicted during a season of suffering, might very well be the personal development required to produce your passion.

We spend our entire lives avoiding trials. We look for the path of least resistance. But this is not the way of the great. Instead, when struggles land before you, consider it opportunity. For it is these moments that mature us. That develop our character and shave off the unneeded edges of our temperament.

Remember, there isn’t a living thing on this planet that doesn’t share in the battle against resistance. We are all fighting for survival… the survival of our bodies, our ideas, and our passions.

Critical Question: What trials are you facing right now? Are you counting them as opportunities? Can you see how they are preparing you for your passion? 

3. A great thing given is never better than a great thing earned.

Getting something for nothing always comes with problems. Whether it’s the list of lottery winners, who go bankrupt shortly after receiving millions, or the son who inherits the family business and doesn’t care about the company’s success.

We must remove the idea that we can have great things with no suffering. We must discern the differences between need, which should be met, and an entitled desire, which should be starved.

Because entitlement is the belief that I am exempt from the required work and I am owed special treatment.

Shockingly, the passions that sit deep in our soul would be robbed if they were accomplished overnight. The journey toward change requires a desire to earn it. To not take shortcuts. To not cheat our way to a solution. But to find ourselves qualified, proven, and capable of our own achievements.

Critical Question: What do you want for free that you should earn? Maybe it’s an audience or a steady income or beautiful website? How can you properly starve that entitlement? 

4. A fire outside of a fireplace is dangerous

This is less of a reason and more of a lesson. Passion can be a dangerous thing. Like anything, it has a time and a place. Your ability to uphold boundaries for your passions will determine the level of suffering you endure.

As I mentioned earlier, passions are painful. And in an effort to relieve the pain, we obsess over a solution. The sooner a solution, the faster the pain will subside. But the moment you prioritize your passions above the important people in your life, you’ve become a fire outside a fireplace.

The key to stewarding passion is finding control in the midst of something seemingly uncontrollable. To be okay with the timing, the required work, the pain, and the suffering.

Critical Question: Do you let your passions take over your life? Do you make irresponsible decisions in a moment of obsession? If so, how can you eliminate those moments in the future?

At the end of the day, we must realize that the pain we experience from the passions we have, is a good thing. For without it, life would be flat.

How about your passion? When asked what you’re passionate about, don’t tell me what makes you feel good or what excites you. What are you willing to suffer for? Let me know in the comments below.

Let Me Help Your Turn Your Passion Into Your Profession

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Author

Dale Partridge
Dale Partridge is the Founder of StartupCamp.com. He's also a keynote speaker and author of the Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling book People Over Profit.

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  1. JASMINE says:

    Dear Dale
    I’m From Vietnam , i’m running my own small business producing raincoat. It’s a very stressful time for me thoseday, today i feel like could not suffer anymore then i Google ” suffer “, It brings me to your website. Your artical helped me alot. In my fewer English , i only can say Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Joe Kabes says:

      Hello Jasmine,
      Thank you for your thoughts and taking the time to post. Running your own business does has unique stresses and challenges. Keep positive and moving forward! Best of luck!

      Reply
  2. Kim Beasley says:

    My passion is dogs. Homeless dos, shelter dogs. I want to make my State a no-kill state; I want our nation to be a no-kill nation. We kill over a million dogs in shelters every year. I want to eliminate dig fighting. Yes, I am willing to suffer for this passion.

    Reply
  3. Silvina Bowman says:

    You know. I’m a firm believer we always find out answers in other people’s words. Today I found mine here. Words are just pouring out of me and I often have to stop and write it down so I don’t forget. I wasn’t sure what was happening but I think I now know what that is. Thanks again.

    Reply
  4. Dale, thank you for this very refreshing way to look at this! Often for people who are full of ideas (Ideation is one of my strengths on Strength Finder), our mind is always at work, always solving something, dreaming, seeing far ahead. For me the hardest thing has been focus. Your probing questions are a huge help in evaluating what is it that really truly drives me and what is worth the time and suffering for. Because if it’s not worth it, the result is going to be regret for the wasted time chasing the wrong trail…. Be blessed!

    Reply
    • Blessings back to you, Irina! Thank for the affirmation and glad to have you as a reader!

      Reply
  5. Alejandra says:

    Yesss! This explains why after doing workshops on a variety of topics which was something I thought would be bliss, I had nightmares, fear, and headaches. After accomplishing an important goal I doubted my calling because what I had done didn’t just ‘excite’ me, it exhausted me! It disturbed me! It impacted me deeply and was a wonderful and worthwhile thing to do. It was passion I was feeling. This reminds me of the following prayer, which now I see is a prayer for passion:

    ‘Disturb us, Lord, when
    We are too well pleased with ourselves,
    When our dreams have come true
    Because we have dreamed too little,
    When we arrived safely
    Because we sailed too close to the shore…. ‘ (and goes on..).

    Thank you, Dale!
    Alejandra

    Reply
    • Wow, yes! Thank you for the encouragement, Alejandra! Such a blessing.

      Reply
  6. Thanks for this great article, it really strengthened what I believe in as well. I always say to myself, that one has to love the thing he/she does so much, because there are so many challenges and obstacles out there, that without deep love (passion) and commitment we would stop doing it.
    About suffering: it is never easy to be a tiny-business owner (in Hungary), but I took every problem I had over the years as something to be solved, and I became more and more selfconfident. Last year I made a wrong business decision (basically I did not pay attention to my intuition), that lead me into a big trouble (= big suffering)(+break up in my personal life). 2 months have passed since the deepest part, and I already feel much more stable, focused, now I start to feel which way to go. So last years suffer-part was really bad, but actually it helps me to grow. And I am thankful for that.

    Reply
    • Growth through suffering is such a hard thing to wrestle with. It’s so good to hear you’re doing this! Thank you so much for sharing, Judit!

      Reply
  7. Reading it feels like it is written for me.Its absolutely similar to what i feel about being passionate but yes its painful.I am passionate to be successful in photography but just can’t put the required amount of effort to get there , i know the steps but struggling to do it enough because the most important people in my life, my husband, 3 young kids they are my priority at the moment.I know ,i understand it will take time but yes its very painful when you have to control the urge to just go after the passion leaving everything behind.

    Reply
  8. Ashley G says:

    This really spoke to me. I’m passionate about my family but my flesh wants to go for the easy way out. When marriage is hard I tend to get thoughts of entitlement and culturally accepted beliefs that I deserve better. But the truth is that my marriage is what I’m passionate about. A good marriage is worth fighting. An intact family is worth fighting for! Thank you for your encouragement 🙂

    Reply
    • I am so glad that you were encouraged by this article, Ashley! Stay devoted, keep moving forward. You got this.

      Reply
  9. Klaudia says:

    Hi Dale,

    I have been following your blog for the last few months and your articles are filled with genuine and precise analysis/advice! Your readers like myself, really admire that!
    I am a striving singer songwriter who currently works full time as a financial advisor, so of course music is my passion, and it really has been gruelling and like you said the moment you realize you are suffering is when that passions begins to bear real fruit! this article really was, da bomb.
    Thanks Dale!

    Reply
  10. Kristi says:

    My husband is not excited nor does he support my passion. He dosnt believe I will make it in my business. When I get excited about a new idea for my business and I bring it up to him, he brings up house projects that need to be completed first. While I understand there are still other projects, it’s hard to feel happy within my marriage without the support of my dream. Frustrated.

    Reply
    • Sorry to hear that Kristi. Keep fighting for unity in the things you do together.

      Reply
  11. Hema says:

    Thanks for the beautiful and clarifying definitions here Dale!

    At 26 years, I have pursued many things that I thought I was good at and could do for a job in future, such as music, art and teaching. However, none of these things seemed to click well enough for me to eventually pursue for life. This was especially evident after graduating from art school. I wasn’t sure if it was the idea and frustration of being superbly underqualified for the jobs I was going for despite many years of volunteering, short work stints, and unpaid internship experiences where I thought I racked up meaningful skills to contribute as an arts administrator… Or the pressing financial concerns I had in being unable to pursue unpaid work to gain experience in the field before I land the big one any further… But I had lost the will to suffer for the vision to transform the arts from behind the scenes. 

    Along the way being stuck in a dead end job I picked up Brazilian jiu jitsu and discovered that the very feeling of suffering for my vision exists when I practise this sport. I found myself willing to get up at 5 at least twice a week to train jiu jitsu or work on strength and conditioning, and what was a promise to keep to training twice a week is now 5-6 times of Long hours on the mat, training technique and sparring hard. As I work somewhere with shifts, I sometimes found myself willing to take extra time off if it interferes with my training (which means a pay cut too!) just to make sure I get the time on the Mars for the week, in. My work extends beyond the mats, that I also do MMA classes to keep up the cardio and even started a powerlifting Programme to work on strength. I found I was also willing to do the work outside of class, reading up on Athletes and meal plans. 

    It is then I learned that I have a true passion for sports in general, for I feel that it is through putting myself through these workouts and above all, just challenging myself to get better Everyday and sharing it with other people and inspiring others to do the same, that I can make a meaningful contribution to society. As such I am working towards my next goal, that is to be a public school PE teacher back home in Singapore (I am currently working and living in Melbourne, Australia) for which I am now struggling to learn to swim in under 10 months so I can clear that part of the proficiency test to be a PE teacher. Another example that proves to me that I am willing to suffer for my sport.

    I hope to now inspire young people to never go through the awkward phase I did growing up, with self esteem issues, to never diet because it never works but to learn proper nutrition and overall, to promote an active lifestyle, because being active is that – a lifestyle. It is this desire to keep improving my fitness and go beyond what I thought I was capable of and share with my loved ones the benefits of getting into a healthy lifestyle that drives me to suffer for my fitness.

    I have no doubt that I will in due time return to my previous passion for art, but for now, I am content at 26 to keep working hard on building up meaningful career capital, making a difference in small ways, and improve my jiu jitsu. The journey has been a Long road of being lost, trying new things and being frustrated, being discouraged but i am now in awe of how crazy things can change in a matter of moments. I would never have pegged myself to be the sporty type, but I am Glad things are taking a turn for the better 🙂 

    Reply
  12. This is a timely post for me as I just wrapped up about 60 hours of editing a 4 minute wedding video. I’ve been dong this work on evenings and weekends while working a full time job that I really dislike. The process of creating the video had its moments of joy for me but to be honest the majority of it was painful. The emotional swings I experienced were very hard to handle. One day my confidence would be soaring, and the next day I would be deflated by self doubt and insecurity. A false definition of passion would tell me that my work will be %100 fun and feel more like a party than work. Not true. On the contrary, I’ve learned that the reward is found not in the “fun” moments, but rather in the moments that suck. Those moments will keep most people out, but for those who are called it only draws them in further. The definition of “follow your passion” has changed for me over the past couple years. I thought work would come easy once I found my passion. But the game changer was when I finished that video and I was ready to do it all over again with a smile on my face. Amazing. And I love how you tie this in with the Passion of Christ. So deep.

    Reply
  13. This is so beautifully written. Something that is extremely hard to explain. You captured the essence of passion in your words.
    The thing that causes me pain, is knowing that people out their live their lives not doing what they love. So many people live hating their jobs. And Dreading their “work”. This clouded mindset keeps them from their calling, it keeps them from their destiny, and the abundance God has in store for them. Too many people settle for an average life because they are afraid to believe that they are extraordinary.
    I am passionate about helping people find their purpose and design and live the life they love. I feel the suffering that comes with passion described in your post, when it comes to providing solutions to this mentality. I am called to help people create true bliss by educating people on how to take charge and dream big and love the Work you do. Providing ways for people to turn their what they love to do into the work that is their calling.

    Reply
  14. Emilie says:

    Thank you so much for this. I got up after a very tearful end to the day, unable to sleep, pressures of studying and doubts that I have what it takes to reach my goal of becoming a Chiropractor. I believe in Chiropractic and the power of getting adjusted, it is my passion, yet I’m so uncertain of my self. I tend to stand in my own way. I came across this article, and understand there is an element of entitlement to my suffering. I am willing to suffer for my vision of a healthier world with better education about the self healing potential of the human body. This is my opportunity to grow and the shit sandwich I am willing to eat to achieve that. Thank you for bringing me back on point. Gratitude x

    Reply
  15. Thank you for reminding me to savor the bad stuff with the good when chasing our dreams.

    Reply
  16. Tyler Ericson says:

    Dale,

    Thank you so much for this post today! I am going through a lot of that suffering right now with my passion. Your image to keep the fire in the fireplace is perfect and what I needed to hear. Thank you for the motivation and encouragement to get through another day of my passion!

    Reply
  17. Kristine Bobrosky says:

    Thank you for this inspiring blog post Dale.
    I struggle with trying to explain my passion to people who don’t get it. They don’t understand why I just don’t sit back and work away to simply make a living. I have a passion for inspiring people to live for experiences, take time for the enjoyable moments in life, gratification. Those around me don’t believe I can make a living with a passion like this and honestly I’m trying to figure out a way how myself. I can’t stand sitting at desk at the office and not doing what I have a passion for. I never looked at passion as suffering, but it makes sense. I will think about those critical questions you posted.

    Reply
  18. I do not know how I managed to go from Pinterest to your website, but I am appreciative already what I have read of yours. I am a young junior entrepreneur majoring in biology on the pre-veterinary track at Hampton University and am interested in building my brand. I would love your incite into building my own brand and actually making my website work for me (so to speak). I enjoy the freedom creating something to share with the masses. So thank you advance!

    Reply
    • Stay up to date with the StartupCamp blog and consider joining StartupCamp. Thanks, Konnor!

      Reply
  19. Andrew Mcclanahan says:

    Hi Dale! Curious to know if airfare and lodging are additional costs?
    Thank you!
    -Andrew Mcclanahan

    Reply
    • Andrew Mcclanahan says:

      To the Summit that you’re offering.

      Reply
    • Yes. They are additional. But you can find cheap lodging or even camp. Flights are obviously pricey depending on your location.

      Reply
  20. Awesome post! Thank you for the reminder. I was beginning to wonder why I continue in this suffering. Then I realize I can’t stop! The thought of giving it up numbs my soul!

    Reply
  21. Grace says:

    Wow! Dale, this was exactly what I needed to hear! I have never thought about passion that way before, but now I see myself struggling with these passions that I have and now I realize that it is okay. However, I do find myself looking for a way out sometimes and I need to change my perspective on how I view the trails and struggles that come my way! Each moment is an opportunity to grow! Thanks for writing all these blog posts, they are really inspirational and helpful!

    Reply
  22. Haley blair says:

    My passion is tea and wellness! I’m a single mom starting over and I’m moving from new York to California in april. I have a fresh slate! I plan on finishing my degree in business marketing and opening my own tea shop! I am completely consumed by my passion and I needed this article! It’s been a hard and exhausting road but I would not have it any other way. Ruin is the road to transformation. Thank you!

    Reply
  23. Yamile says:

    Great content Dale. You’re really helping me finding my true passion. You know what? I cant see your video. I dont know if it’s only me. Love your posts! Greetings from Monterrey, Mexico. =)

    Reply
  24. My passion is education. I am willing to suffer to change it. It is worth every second and every dollar I will spend. It is giving kids their childhood back and helping them fall in love with learning at the same time. It is possible. Kids don’t have to hate learning! I am grateful for Startup Camp that is helping me turn this fiery passion into something incredible, a movement that will change the world. GREAT article Dale! ❤️

    Reply
  25. I like your definition of passion, Dale. At first, I subconsciously took issue to your suggestion that passion is not “what excites you”, but now I see that passion IS what excites you, but it excites you so much that it’s worth suffering for. For me, my passion is communicating Christian truths to women in a way that is relevant to our lives today. Doing this is tricky, and so many have failed or done it poorly. It certainly comes with its obstacles, and honestly I was not feeling much like working on my website today. But it’s worth it – it’s worth suffering for, because it can transform people’s lives and bear eternal fruit. Thanks for normalizing the experience of suffering in passion. My heart is encouraged today.

    Reply
    • Great to hear. What a good reason for your passion as well. Thanks, Elsie!

      Reply
  26. I absolutely love your definition of passion, Dale. I never made the connection and thought of the two definitions as two distinct words. But you make an eloquent case. Thank you for making the connection between suffering and passion. It changed something in me.

    Reply
  27. Zara says:

    Thank you. I needed this in my quest to complete my mission in life.

    Reply
  28. Such a timely written piece! Thank you!
    I once hear calling is where your gifts and talents collide with your greatest/deepest burden. I’m a networker, a storyteller and creative. While I feel called to help non-profits and people tell their stories through video; my greatest burden is seeing people set free! I resonate all to well with the “feeling guilty” for not changing the world on a Friday night; when perhaps that’s exactly what we’re supposed to be doing: being present and loving the people before us. In an effort to hone my vision of being a voice for the voiceless and communicating stories of hope in a broken world; I will continue to wrestle with this and the burden of seeing people set free from bondage they don’t HAVE to be in. (It goes a lot deeper) but thanks for the encouragement- sometimes it helps to be reminded the sacrifice and burden is worth it!

    Reply
  29. Fabulous. Beautiful points, Dale. I appreciated them so on this “in between” day. I am focused and committed, but somehow still knocking down fears. My “passion” certainly has been born through much pain, and it is indeed time to offer the blessings and hopeful solutions to others. It is a climb uphill in every way! Do I have enough credentials? Do I have the courage? Do I have a clue? Your work is always on the mark for my spirit as I approach this work, this duty, with balance and forward movement. God bless you for sharing so much!

    Reply
  30. Hine says:

    Dale, this is a really great article. I had not previously considered passion as this but it appears to be quite right in several circumstances I continue to work through – I’ll ponder on this more and re-read again often. Thanks (from New Zealand)

    Reply
  31. My passion is people. More specifically their struggle in life to see the amount of energy fighting battles that was never theirs to fight. Focusing in on the root issues and not just the symptoms.

    Reply
  32. Michelle Duncan says:

    Hi Dale, I know your feelings of passion. They keep you awake, they drive you when you are tired, they fill your every being with purpose and energy. It’s great. I have experienced passion twice now in my life of 26 years, and both times they resulted in a serious amount of pain that I wish on not even my enemy. The problem I am now facing is fear to walk forward in case I experience that again. And this fear is immobilising me, is preventing me from living to my fullest potential and giving to the world, letting my light shine so as to empower others to do the same. I am afraid to pursue any interest in case it is the wrong one and won’t lead to me to purpose, or passion. At the moment I have no sense of direction because I have no passion, which drove me previously, but now I am afraid to have passion. Some advice on how to heal and not be afraid would be great!

    Reply
    • What keeps you up at night? What do you love? What is worth hurting for? I think these may be good starting points. Hope that can help Michelle.

      Reply
  33. Laura Thompson says:

    Hi Dale,
    This is describes my husband perfectly! Trying to understand/support him while having a healthy marriage with balance.

    Reply
  34. Adam says:

    Good morning, Dale!

    Recently, I discovered the passion flame for the well being of innocent animals which also is connected to the environmental issues we face together. At first, I thought I’d want a career in computer science, but the drive to study and gain more awareness on the subject wasn’t there. It’s been 6 months now since I adopted the vegan lifestyle. It hurts me whenever I read or view such negative actions commited by the hands of man toward innocent sentient beings who have no voice. It’s a conditioned belief that animals are objects and are here for the short sighted pleasure of the tastebuds or fashion sense. I am slowly interweaving everything together & I hope to be of service to those without a voice along with the giant organism that is Mother Earth which supplies for all for the remainder of my life experience. This is my passion.

    Reply
  35. Thank you for that articulation. It is painful but also the best energy of all time. And I’ve learned to share my passion with only the right people…the ones that “get it” and the ones I attract. It’s not for everyone. I’ve learned to suffer in silence while I go about my mission. Sometimes it’s very lonely but worth it. Thank you.

    Reply
  36. Gita Banks says:

    You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. Thank you Dale! My new favourite blog post.

    Reply

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