433 | How Challenges Promote Growth Part 1

In today’s podcast, we’re going to dig down into what’s to be gained, and we’ll discover how challenges promote growth and how to turn the tables on our discomfort. Here’s what C.S. Lewis had to say on the matter:

It’s a little counterintuitive to think that the things currently causing us pain or stress in life could actually be working in our favor. I mean, we generally tend to avoid discomfort, rather than embracing it, am I right?

Well, let’s spin that around a bit. Lots of people pay good money every month to go to a gym where they workout, sweat, toil, have to endure hardships, and for what? Because they know that where there’s “no pain”, there’s “no gain”!

I’d like you to consider this week: what discomfort are you trying to avoid? And how might that perspective be keeping you from growing, improving, and reaching your extraordinary destiny?


challenges, life, grow, folks, face, stress, shovel, people, struggle, solve, strain, character, experiences, growth, resistance, grapes


Chris LoCurto


Chris LoCurto  00:00

The paradox that exists between the uncomfortable challenges you're facing, and the good growth they're meant to produce, that is coming up next.


Chris LoCurto  00:19

Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show, where we discuss leadership and life, and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.


Chris LoCurto  00:31

Hey, folks, welcome to the show. Hope you're having a phenomenal day, wherever you are. This month, we have been talking through and are continuing to talk through predictability and scalability. Now, the first episode of August was, The Art of Solving Problems, if you did not listen to that, go back and listen to that, 428.

Today's episode is, How Challenges Promote Growth. Now, this is going to be a two parter, I can tell you that right now, because there's a lot of great information. So that will be this episode and next week's episode as well. Now the paradox of challenge. The key principle, which is scaling proportional to capacity, that's our aim, right? Now, we discussed this already in episodes 430 and 432, on building predictability into your business finances, if you haven't heard those, go back and listen to those. However, here's a very important key to what we're talking about today.

We can only scale to our true capacity, when we have been pursuing growth all along the way, when we've been keeping up with the challenges in our lives. Now let me say that again, I want to make this clear. I use a lot in our live events or in some of our lessons a winemaker in Burgundy.

I love what he says- if you've been following me for any decent amount of time, you know that I love the wine growing process. It's something we teach a lot about because so much of it is so profound to how our life is, now as a believer, one thing I know is God uses suffering and struggles to grow our character, right? So what this great winemaker in Burgundy, France says, "If you give grapes, all the sun and all the water they want, they will become lazy couch potatoes." Folks, we are not different. If we get all the stuff we want, if we get the sun, the water, the whatever, we can become lazy couch potatoes.

Take a look at what's happened over the last year, how many people do you know that given the opportunity to sit on their couch and watch TV or all day long, or play video games or whatever, they actually took it? Right? How many folks were you know, chomping at the bit to get out of the house, but how many folks actually have enjoyed every bit of it? That's not gonna help you when it comes to scaling proportionally to capacity, right?

Because you're diminishing your capacity when you're doing that in life. So let me say it another way; when growth isn't happening, we aren't-and I'm talking about to us personally, then we're not being prepared for new challenges. Do you see the paradox, you don't just grow, because you exist, you don't just grow because you breathe air. If we are going to grow and we're going to be ready for stuff, we have to actually be challenged. We need new challenges. We need obstacles, we need adversity, we need resistance in our life.

We need stress, we need struggle. And for most of us, we also need suffering. A grape on the vine that has to suffer and struggle to stay alive becomes one of the most complex, one of the most bold, one of the most flavorful grapes. It's powerful, what the outcome is, now a lot of you out there going, "Yeah, I really don't want to be that complex. I don't want to be that bold, I don't want to be that, you know, flavorful. I'm fine. Let's just do half of that." Come on. We we all need to grow.

We all want to be better at something, if not many things, right? I know for me, my wife and I we spend a lot of time praying that God grows us more into the people that he wants us to be, the Christ followers that he wants us to be. And with that prayer, we're very aware with what that brings along. A lot of times that brings struggle, a lot of time that brings, you know, character development. So we're going to talk about the paradox of challenge when we come back right after this.



"Freedom. It's so powerful."



 "I felt rejuvenated, almost renewed to some degree."



"I just felt so welcomed and loved and accepted for who I am, and not an ounce of judgment so I was very comfortable there. That had a really big impact on me."



"It's going to be worth it. It's going to be hard, but it's going to be even better on the other side."



"For me, it was just, it was very refreshing. And I'm gonna say life giving, for me, it really was."



"You know, I would go through Next Level Life again, and probably again, and probably again, because it's so powerful."


Chris LoCurto  05:30

I want you to ask yourself a question. Could you hear the sense of hope and freedom and their voices just then? I want you to know, that could be you? Look, it's easy to get trapped in old habits, negative thought patterns, and unhealthy relationships. It's gonna take some work. But yes, there is hope for you. If you want to experience the same kind of life transformation, the same kind of self-awareness and freedom that they have, or maybe you're just curious what the process would look like for you, then head on over to chrislocurto.com/nextlevellife.


Chris LoCurto  06:08

Whenever I think a character development I think of when I was a kid growing up and Taho, while other families had snowblowers, our mom, my brother and I, our mom, we shoveled, because we're shoveling before school, sometimes we're shovelingl after school. And whenever we would ask her, "Mom, can we have a snowblower this season?" She'd be like, "Nope, shoveling builds character." Let me tell you, I am proud to see my own work ethic.

I am proud to see that my brother will bust it as well. Right? That we have great work ethic. Yeah, it does build character. There was a time where so during the summertime, we shovel snow in the in the wintertime, during the summertime, we got into the woods and we would drop trees, buck them into rounds. And then we bring them home and spin by hand with axes.

And we would always "Mom, can we have one of those log splitters, can we get one of the gas powered log splitters?" And finally one year she actually got us one and we used it for like, I don't know, maybe a week, maybe. And then my brother picked up the axe and he started swinging again.

I'm like, "What are you doing?" And he goes, "I like the work out of swinging the axe I like this better. That's just boring sitting there pushing the little lever to split the wood." So I picked up an axe and we kept going my mom took the log splitter back. It's amazing the character that happens in you when you're going through situations like that, when you have to work through something, when you have to push through something. And those weren't struggled times. I mean, we were not struggling. There was no issues with having to shovel snow before school, right?

Well, as long as we got up in time. What it did is it grew us, it developed us it mature to us, it improved us, it helped us to see things differently. It helped us to see that when something needed to get done, go get it done. You know, we weren't the kind of people who sat around and went "Well, I'll do it later." No, not where I grew up. If you don't get the snow done, then the snow plow is gonna put a whole bunch more snow in your driveway really soon.

And it'll turn into ice before, you know you get home from school. And then you're taking that axe from the summertime, chopping up that ice, right? So you learn when your character is being stretched. So think about the many areas of life where we all face challenges, right? If you're somebody who's ever gone to the gym and lifted weights, well then you experience resistance. What does resistance do? If you spend time working under resistance, then you grow muscles, right? When we're getting tested in school.

Now a lot of folks will say, "I suck at testing." And you may. But guess what? The testing that you have gone through at some point kicks in a, "Crud. I need to focus, I need to make sure that I'm doing this right." You don't suck at testing and then just continue to suck, right? Now some of you might challenge me on that and say you do but I'm gonna say you probably have gotten better at testing at some point in your life, right?

The testing that we get when we get a driver's license at the DMV. Enough said right there. Just go down to the to the DMV or whatever it's called in your area, and try and get your license renewed. That's a whole lot of testing right there.

There's a whole lot of resistance right there. Okay, well, that one's just in there for the fun of it. Any kind of certification has requirements, right? Any type of qualification, any type of diploma, well, maybe not every diploma actually has challenges. Some of them may not know this. Anything that you had to reach for in order to meet a goal has some level of challenges that we face. So think about it, those challenges are instructive.

They cause you to think they cause you to process, they caused you to study, the cause you to prepare. You had to focus your energy in any one of those situations. Definitely the more serious ones, you had to prove yourself in any of those situations, right? So think about it, all of these challenges stretch us, they strengthen us in the process, they make a strain in order to obtain. So what was all that straining for? That's what we're going to talk about when we come back right after this.


Chris LoCurto  10:32

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Chris LoCurto  11:31

Okay, so what is this purpose of challenge? Now I know you're listening to the show you you get this, you understand this, you're with me. But sometimes it's really great to hear it in the context of what I'm sharing today. So we could recognize there are many times we're challenged and we grow. And they're not even things we really think about, right? They're not even things that we're focused on. The challenge comes, we grow, we move on right?

CS Lewis said, "Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny." Good night. Let me say that again. As my audio engineer sitting in the room, just let out a, "huh" with a big head nod. Let me say that again, because I really want you to soak this up. This is a God principle. "Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny." So let me ask you a question right now. How much do you want an ordinary destiny compared to an extraordinary destiny?

If you don't want your destiny to just be ordinary, and if you do, you probably wouldn't be listening to this show. Which means that you do want something better than ordinary, you do want something extraordinary, right? Louis goes on to say, "Dealing with adversity. Having exposure to adversity early on, is very useful, and how someone goes through life."

I know a ton of you, if not all of you have some of those stories like I do early on in life, you know, as being a kid swinging an axe so that we could put food on the table, right? We sold all that- well, we didn't sell all of it. Obviously, we kept some of it to warm our house. But we did that to make money, right, shoveling that snow had to happen. Dealing with adversity taught me how to deal with all kinds of other things.

One of the key things that we teach around here is how to solve problems. Right? If you're not 'solutions minded', you're going to get stuck all along the way. So here's what I want you to recognize. Every step along the path is preparation for the challenges that you're going to encounter tomorrow. Sometimes we look at the challenge, and we go, "I want out of the challenge. This is tough."

But here's what we discover, especially for those of us that are believers. I mean, if you're not a believer, you still should be discovering this, that God uses that difficulty those challenges, not just for today. Character development, growth, is not just for in the moment. Yes, should you be growing in your character and using it right now in the midst of your challenge? 100%.

But how many times-stop for just a second-go back on your life, look at challenges that you've experienced; and here's what I want you to ask, How much better are you at solving those things today? How many times do you just not even think about it because it's become just second nature for you, right? So here's what I want you to ask yourself: What is my knee jerk reaction when facing new challenges? Do I shrink back? Do I shy away?

Do I shirk responsibility? Do I stress? Do I feel out of control? Do I sabotage myself? Right? So think about it. When a new challenge comes your way, how do you respond? Are you pushing responsibility off? Are you putting walls up and protecting yourself? Are you becoming a victim? Do you have victim mentality when when new challenges come along? Or do you hit them head on?


Chris LoCurto  15:34

Do you look at the new challenge and ask yourself the question, How do I solve that? What do I do about that? I gotta get through there. I gotta bust through that wall. So what do I have around me to help break the wall down? Right? So think about how you respond to new challenges, right? Some people, as Viktor Frankl says, distract themselves with pleasure.

If a new challenge comes up, I don't want to face it. What Viktor Frankl says is, "When a person can't find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure." How many times do you find yourself with a new challenge, facing a new challenge, and instead of hitting it head on, you find some other thing to put your focus on? Folks, that's all of us, right? I know there are times that I have distracted myself, because I didn't want to face the challenge ahead of me. Think about your email inbox. Think about your "to do" list that you should have. If you don't, you should be doing that at the end of every day closing out your day.

Think about the the conflict on your to do list, right? If you got 10 items, and one or two of them are conflict, how do you normally talk to your "to do" list, you do the eight other things, and if you still have time on the day, to get that conflict, one or two done, then you probably end up reading emails to still avoid it right? A lot of us have faced that-shoot, every one of us has faced that, right?

We've all faced that. But when you take the work ethic, when you take the, 'I know that this is going to grow me' approach to it, then you jump in and solve it. So I want you to take inventory right now. What are you facing right now? And how are you dealing with it?


Chris LoCurto  17:22

Are you hitting it head on? Are you shrinking away from it? Are you putting a plan together? Are you tackling it? And by the way, think of what we teach here, don't just go bust it, gain quality perspective, get as much perspective on the new challenge as you possibly can. And then make the best decision, don't just bust in there and and solve the thing and find out later on that you got to redo it. Gain as much quality perspective as you can. What needs to happen? Why is this happening? How did it happen? You know, what are we going to do to fix it?

All of the things that you need to do. So, how do challenges provoke? Well, according to the 70 2010 rule developed by the Center for Creative Leadership, you need to have three types of experiences in order to learn and grow as a leader. 70% are challenging experiences and assignments. 20% are developmental relationships. 10% is training and coursework. So look at that, in order to grow, you need 70% of your experiences to stress and challenge you.

Guys, I'm gonna tell you, I agree. Do I think you need 70% of your challenges to stress and grow? I don't think you need to. But my gosh, the more challenge and stress you have, the more you respond. Too much, obviously, if the number was 90, we would have a problem, right? Too much stress and challenge can cause you to just, you know, coil back, but too little really doesn't cause you to solve a whole lot. If you can feel comfortable with the challenges you have, then you might actually not spend a lot of time in growing.

So challenges are crucial to growth and development. If we don't have stress or strain, or stimulus in a challenging way, then we stagnate. Think about that. So can you imagine yourself being at a place where you crave new challenges in life? And listen, you're not hearing me suggest that you need to push everything aside and go face challenges in life. Right? You have plenty of challenges today in all aspects of your life or at least you should. So I'm not saying hey, go make all of your worth be focused on accomplishments and facing challenges.

What I'm saying is find the challenges that grow you. Find the stresses and the strains that are actually going to make you a better version of you. President Theodore Roosevelt wrote a series of essays that he called, The Strenuous Life.

And one of the things he said is this, "I wish to preach not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife, to preach that highest form of success which comes not to the man who desires marry easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil. And who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph." Think about that, folks. What do you want in life? Do you want it to be easy? Do you want it to be challengless? Do you want it to not have stress and strain?


Chris LoCurto  20:55

Or do you want to pick up that kind of life that creates strain so that you strive, so that you're able to labor, so that you're able to do the things that create a splendid ultimate triumph in your life?

So, where are you struggling right now? Where's the pain of transformation in your life? How can you embrace it, not so that you hold on to the strain, but so that you learn how to work through it? Next week, I'm going to give you three tips for greater growth, so do not miss it. Until then, spend some time identifying where God is leading you to grow through the struggle you're experiencing. And if you need help, reach out, we're here for you.

Send us an email, send us something to podcasts@chrislocurto.com. We're here to help. That's why this show exists. In fact, you know people who need to be listening to this, do us a favor, share it, like, subscribe, all that kind of fun stuff, help us to help as many people as possible get this kind of change in their life.

So let me recap. Every step along the path is preparation for the challenges you'll encounter tomorrow, we should lean into instead of shying away from challenges but how? We're going to talk about that in part two. Folks, I hope this has helped you today. As always take this information, change your leadership, change your business, change your life, and join us on the next episode.



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.