I invite you to suffer

Moments of suffering can serve as effective tutors. Not the physiological suffering or fear of basic safety kind. But rather the suffering of belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

While I’ve forgotten much of the specifics of organizational theory taught at Copenhagen Business School, I’ve never forgotten how being forced to sit with my screen visible to a busy pass way in a Copenhagen office made me feel. The loss of control and privacy traded for the whims of a boss that “thought it looked better”.

I don’t reach much for the computer science of sorting algorithms in general or binary trees in particular, but the frustration and indignation I felt wrestling with Java Swing to produce a video database for a school project will be with me forever.

Although I actually do remember much of the basic business economics and accounting I learned in school, their importance were never truly driven home until I worked through a string of collapsed businesses due to magical investment thinking of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

These moments and many more lit a rage inside me because the suffering felt so needless. I concluded all of them with a sense of “it doesn’t need to be this way”. As the internet would say: We Have The Technology! (Or, the path to invent what we need seems obvious).

I wasn’t always in a position to do anything about the particular situation, but I was always equipped to store the memory and emotion for latter use.

Harvesting the power of suffering is a thin line, though. It’s easy to store it all in containers of resignation, defeat, and bitterness. That’s not a useful source of energy.

You must pair suffering with hope. The hope that you’ll be able to set this wrong right. And then set about to do just that.