Get Off The Nail – How to use Pain as a Motivator for Change

This post is inspired by a story I read by Dan Miller in the book “The Rudder of the Day.” (Side note: I love Dan Miller’s work, especially his 48 Days podcast. Find more at

Get Off the Nail Dan Miller Quote

[callout]From Dan Miller’s book The Rudder of the Day:

I heard a story from my friend Bob about an old dog lying on the front porch. A neighbor approached the porch and could hear the dog softly moaning. He asked the his friend why the dog was whimpering. And the owner said: “He’s lying on a nail.” Predictably the man said, “Well, why doesn’t he move?” To which the owner replied, “I guess it doesn’t hurt quite that much yet.”[/callout]

Henry Cloud Quote

What Else?

A powerful question we use with life coaching is “what else?”

We’ll ask an open ended question to let the client explore and discover what’s going on inside of them, and then after they’ve answered all they know to answer, we’ll sometimes ask “what else?”

You’d be amazed at how much clarity comes after asking that question.

So let me ask you: What pain have you been dealing with in your life that just hasn’t gotten bad enough to do anything about?

Once you’ve answer that question to yourself, here’s the follow-up:

What else?

I write this because it was in asking myself “what else” that I got some needed revelation on some pain in my life that I’ve tolerated rather than actively doing anything about.

Another great question is this:

What pain will you experience if you don’t make the changes you feel you need to make?

Pain is Powerful

Pain is a powerful motivator. But let it do it’s job. If you ignore it, often the consequences are much greater. You can always pay the price later, but the price goes up the longer you wait. Don’t waste the pain, listen to it.

What is it telling you you need to do?


[reminder]What is one area in your life where you’ve been sitting on the nail and tolerating the pain rather than taking action? Be brave![/reminder]