We Are All in the Pain Relief Business

A graphic of a tooth being struck

It’s almost a cliche’ question at a party when you meet someone at a social function and ask, “What do you do?” or “What business are you in?” Most people actually struggle with the answer. They either go all in with inane details or gloss over it. But a recent experience reminded me that in the end, we’re all in the pain relief business.

Here’s what happened: I woke up in the middle of the night feeling some discomfort and noticing swelling along my jaw line. I did what most men do. I pushed on it. Winced. Then ignored it and went back to bed. In the morning it felt worse. So I took two Tylenol. By mid-day it was throbbing. And after the six o’clock news I was in agony. Finally, I called my dentist, Dr. Thomas Weiss. He was still in the office and told me to come in.

Sure enough, I had an abscess on a tooth, deep at the bottom of the root. Dr. Weiss did an emergency root canal, but couldn’t save the tooth. He relieved the pressure and pain and put me in touch with a specialist who a few days later took the tooth out and performed a bone graph—yes, this went way past root canal—to prepare my jaw for a tooth implant.

After the specialists procedure, the office administrator presented me with the bill with the warning, “If you thought your tooth hurt, brace yourself for looking at this!”

It was a big number, but as I looked at it I thought, hell, I would’ve paid just about anything to get out of the pain I was in, and because both of the dentists were so good at what they did, they got me out of pain and back on track in a relatively short period of time.

When I’m teaching one of our Presenters Training Camps or coaching an executive on his or her public speaking, I’m doing the same thing. I’m taking someone from a high level of discomfort and getting them to a much higher level of comfort. Doctors do the same thing. So do cab drivers, priests, chefs, news anchors, and so many other professionals. They replace the pain of not being able to do something, not being able to get somewhere, not being satisfied with the pain relief of getting it done, getting there, getting satisfied.

So if you struggle with letting people know what you do for a living the easiest way to express it is to say, “I’m in the pain relief business.” Then ask them what kind of pain they’re experiencing. You never know. You might find a match and a new client.

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