Ride your deepest pain to greatness

Mike Vacanti
Nov 6, 2014 · 3 min read

“You are completely wasting this.”

His face contorted in disgust. Not because there was a lacrosse ball jammed under his scapula, but because he was so disappointed in me.

“Seriously, you are making a mistake. You are throwing away a huge opportunity. This could be a book, Mike.”

I just looked at him. Deadpan. Lips pressed together. Emotionless. But on the inside, I was fucking pissed. Fuck you, I thought. An emotional response, absent any logic, to a doubter of my work ethic.

“I know you are documenting weight and macros and data, and all that stuff’s great. But you need to be writing about this story.”

I interjected, indirectly.

“Alright Gary, chin ups. Eight reps, lets go” in a voice that masked my inner rage.

But he was right.

I was wasting it.

I lost my motivation.

And I know exactly why.

In 2011 an online poker site stole half my net worth. The girl I planned to marry left me. And I was working a yes-man job where my ranking on the corporate ladder, and thus marginal income, was determined by my willingness to kiss ass and get walked on.

I flipped the script.

Anger, hurt and pain motivated my actions. My climb.

And by converting those emotions into fuel, I was able to change my life. Move around the country. Grow a successful fitness business. Help people from every corner of the world. And create relationships that are better for me.

But in the last few months, progress halted.

Life was soft and easy.

No pain. So, no motivation.

Then, the disappointment of someone whose opinion I value highly led me to whip out , write an additional 8,000 words in six hours and recalibrate my brain back to grind mode.

To a place where I am slamming a large coffee and espresso shot, simultaneously, while Dashboard blares in my ears and I maul the keys on my 11 inch macbook air.

Here’s the point:

The only reason I have ever accomplished anything is by embracing my pain.

I was hurt and sad and embarrassed that chapin nault and ian newby and 15 other dopes made the hockey team in 2000, while I was cut from the program.

So, I started skating at 4:30am on school days and shooting hundreds of pucks during hot summer afternoons until I was playing in front of 500,000 fans in the state tourney five years later.

It is the conversion of deep pain into motivation that has fueled every feat in my life.

I’m not sure how I feel about this.

I don’t think I like it. It feels dark and weird.

It certainly is not glamorous or noble.

But it’s the truth.

I wish I was motivated by a deep sense of gratitude. Or an insatiable desire to win. Or a Mom Teresa-like yearning to do good.

But I’m not.

In times of waning productivity, I just throw on a song that hits a nerve down deep in some fucked part of my brain and makes me hurt. Then I bang out coaching programs. Or a quad dominant leg day. Or anything I feel unmotivated to do.

If you have read this much, I’m sorry

This is turning out to be a dear-diary-ish, unactionable brain dump.

I always try to give YOU value when I write, and I didn’t here.

I think I just needed to properly articulate this idea. Maybe I should just see a therapist.

Anyway, thank you for reading.

Truly. I appreciate it.

Mike Vacanti usually writes about eating ice cream and lifting weights, . He is also the man responsible for getting in great shape.

    Mike Vacanti

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