• Max Finder

Calluses

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

Calluses are painful as they first start to form. 

If you start doing pullups or using weights after a long time away from the gym, you’ll start to get calluses at the bottom of your fingers. 

If you pick up the guitar and start learning how to play, you'll start to get calluses at the top of your fingers.

If you change the way you hold a kitchen knife to improve your cutting skills and start cooking a lot, you get one strange callus 3/4 of the way down your dominant hand's index finger.


Calluses are good - they're a sign that we're doing something hard, and that we're adapting to doing that hard thing over and over again. The more times we do that hard thing, the more protective our calluses will become.


But doing that hard thing hurts at the beginning when there's no calluses. Sometimes it might even be enough pain to deter us. Maybe if my hands hurt too bad I won't go back to the gym until they heal. Or I won't practice the guitar. But it's the fighting through that pain and the persistence in doing that new thing despite the pain that enables the callus to form.


Persistence is everything. Doing the same sales call over and over again is painful at first - eventually a callus forms over it and it absorbs the pain. Getting up early AF to write this is painful. But I've done it consistently enough in the last several weeks that the callus I've formed to protect against its pain does its job. Callus + Coffee = Success.


My mindset changed recently in response to doing hard things. Somehow I figured out that practicing doing hard things is starting to help me form mental calluses and enabling me to expand the breadth of hard things which I attempt. I think part of this has been a result of taking cold showers and working out every day. Cold showers are awful. Forget the possible health properties - just the simple fact that they suck but this muscle of doing it anyway can be built has served me in other areas of my life. Same thing with going to the gym - sometimes it is terrrrrible to go to the gym - because I know I'm about to feel pain. But continuing to work that muscle of doing hard things, and build the callus to defend against the pain, is extremely rewarding.


This brings to mind the Lindy Effect, brought to my attention in Nassim Taleb's book "Skin in the Game". To quote Wikipedia, "every additional period of survival implies a longer remaining life expectancy". Essentially, the longer something exists the longer it will exist. I think this applies to habits and pushing through pain. The longer we do something, the longer we will be able to do it. The stronger and more resilient our calluses are to absorb the pain.


So let's not run from the pain of doing anything. It works as a law of nature - where there's pain, a callus will form and it gets easier.


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