Paulo Coelho tells the story of the painter Henri Matisse who used to visit the great Renoir regularly.

As Renoir became more ravaged by arthritis, Matisse arrived on a daily basis, taking brushes, paint and food for the ailing artist.

Matisse would watch Renoir paint and every time the brush touched the canvas the master painter would wince in pain.

“Master, you have already created a vast and important body of work, why continue torturing yourself in this way?”

“Very simple,’ Renoir replied. ‘Beauty remains, but pain passes.”

People who do great things understand that pain isn’t to be avoided, but is a part of the process.

Phil Collins has to tape drumsticks to his hands as he can no longer hold them due to nerve damage.  He pushes through the pain.

Why does he do it?  Is it because he needs the money?  I doubt it.  He does it because he is passionate about his music and can’t help himself but withstand the pain to create what he loves.

Former Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra Conductor Eugene Ormandy once dislocated his shoulder when conducting a piece by Brahms.  He dislocated his shoulder!

He was so caught up in what he was doing that he pushed himself to the edge and overcame the urge to just feel comfortable.  He gave it all that he had and was regarded as one of the finest conductors of his generation.

What about you?

Do you avoid pain, or do you push through it?

Do you have a high pain threshold when you’re doing what you’re passionate about?

Do you sometimes miss opportunities because you would rather take the easy option?

Is there something that you need to do that may cause you some inconvenience in the short-term but in the long-term has the potential to be magnificent?

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