Welcome to Merge's Monthly Mega Minute - a bite-sized, yet substantial and practical, nugget of
information that you can use immediately to enhance your professional and personal success.
Pain serves a purpose
Congenital analgesia is a rare condition in which a person cannot feel physical pain. While at first
glance one may think that this might be a good thing, very quickly you’d realize otherwise. Pain is the
body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong. It is what makes you pull your hand away
from an open flame; it is what lets you know that you need to seek medical attention. It causes you to
pause and re-evaluate before you continue. Pain’s most important function is to protect you from
serious, and possibly fatal, harm.
Which is not a bad analogy to carry into the workplace. Very often, the best-laid plans go awry.
Things don’t work out quite the way you’d expected or hoped. And that results in pain – a rebuke from
the boss, embarrassment in front of your colleagues, or just disappointment in yourself because you
didn’t anticipate the damage. No matter which, our natural tendency is to perceive the outcome as
But what if we shifted our perspective to ask the question: could this “pain” actually be positive? Just
as pain is the body’s warning system, it could also be warning system for you at work. Your
manager’s displeasure might be a strong indicator that your current approach won’t get his or her
support as you move forward. The roadblocks you are facing could be cautionary signals that you
don’t have sufficient stakeholder agreement. The current malfunction may well be a forewarning that there are physical or emotional constraints in your organization that will only lead to failure. Pain may,
in fact, be a good thing. But only if you stop what you’re doing, and pause and re-evaluate before you
Are you facing organizational “pain”? Can this analogy apply? Would it be helpful to stop, pause and
re-evaluate before you continue? I’d love to hear about your experiences, and whether (or not) this
analogy resonates with you. Please share your perspectives directly on the blog