Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Purpose of Struggle

The Team Clock Institute’s upcoming release, Useful Pain: Why Your Relationships Need Struggle, was written as an enticement for growth. Based on a simple concept, interactions between partners are viewed in necessary cycles of meaningful challenge. Of course, instinct tells us to make the pain go away. The reward is relief from, you name it, tension…fear…anxiety…depletion…the threat of failure. But what might happen if we allowed the struggle to run its course without being soothed?

When two people embark on a risk together, decision are driven by either the most fearless or most fearful member of the relationship. Fearless partners push their apprehensive counterparts forward. Fearful partners pull their more confident partners back. This dynamic push and pull generates creative tension in the relationship that forces either growth or stagnation. The symptoms most likely to appear when the risk is being negotiated represent both the eagerness for and the resistance to the consequences of change. When the more fearful partner is pulling, the relationship will be most affected by issues like resistance to change or fear of failure. When the more fearless partner is pushing, the relationship will be most influenced by feeling over-extended or “out on a limb.” Of course, both fearlessness and fearfulness have value, depending on what’s at stake.

Taking smart risks brings excitement and adventure to the life of a relationship. Much like driving a car, you are less likely to take a risk if your have passengers on board than if you are traveling alone. In relationships, risk-taking must account for the consequences on all parties involved. The resulting struggle has purpose – learning how to keep moving forward while honoring the pace of the team – useful pain.