Pain is My Friend

Abhishek Paul
2 min readApr 26, 2019


Rocky IV is a guilty pleasure. The music, the training montages and the final all out brawl of a boxing match all add to the enjoyment even today — almost 35 years on.

One of the scenes that sticks in my mind is when Stallone is being trained by Duke (Apollo’s trainer). Duke has him doing some sick stomach crunches and the only thing he keeps repeating out aloud during the entire work out is, “No Pain!”. I laughed at it initially — it didn’t make any sense, Rocky was obviously in a lot of pain and here was his coach not shouting encouragement like, “you can do it!”, or, “only 1 more”, but he was asking him to ignore it. I now realize that ignore was the wrong word — he was asking Rocky to absorb the pain and still push ahead. It took me over 3 decades to understand the wisdom behind this approach.

Pain is an integral part of any significant growth — duh! They say that our brains are programmed to find the path of least resistance (like water), but water only flows one way and most of us want to go the other.

Endurance athletes differentiate the good from the great by their ability to stay in the “pain cave”. I am scared when I see people planning every aspect of their lives to minimize pain and maximize comfort / convenience (myself included). We don’t even want to be in the same pincode as the cave. How then can we honestly expect to learn about ourselves and grow? The pain need not just be physical, it can also be emotional, financial, social, etc.

So I’m out looking for my caves now and hoping to learn from those who have already started on this journey.