4 Lessons I Learned From Getting My Arm Stuck in Our Couch

This chair will eat you.

I’m ashamed to admit this, but for approximately two minutes this morning, I managed to get my arm stuck in our couch.

The night before, my wallet slid out of my pocket and fell between the couch cracks in what has since been scientifically proven to be the Most Difficult Place on Earth for Justin to Reach.

Thinking I’d found a shortcut, I shoved my arm in between the slots on the couch and ending up getting stuck. Yes, stuck.

I couldn’t move for the better part of two minutes which, if you think about it, is a super long time to be confined by an inanimate object.

Forgive me stretching the situation, but a flash of inspiration hit while I was waiting to be free from the cushiony clutches. Here are four lessons I learned during my time of trial.

1. The things we want most in life don’t come easily.

I needed my wallet in a big way. It had my license, credit cards, and Mars Cafe punch card it in. (Priorities, people!) Long story short, I wasn’t leaving the house without it.

You and I both have dreams, wants, and desires. Most of us have believe the lie the opportunities we want will simply drift effortlessly into our laps with little to no work.

Not true.

Getting the job, spouse, business—heck anything—you want doesn’t come easily. Expect a twenty-mile uphill battle with lots of blisters and you’ll be relieved when only have to trek two.

But the grind is in place for a reason. It separates the impostors from those who really want to be there. It separates the Dreamers from the Doers; fact from fiction.

2. There is always pain involved when you go after something you want.

Funny thing happens when you cut off the blood supply from your arm: it goes numb. Also, news flash: human limbs were not made to be smushed by slabs of wood and leather. The result of both of these scenarios? Pain. Dull at first, then increasingly acute.

When you go after a desire, dream, or want, you will encounter pain. Dull at first, then acute, then a mixture of the two.

Friends will misunderstand you. You will lose deals. You will waste money despite your best efforts. Rejection. Rejection. Rejection. (Did I mention rejection?)

If you’ve ever watched a baby being born, you know the room resembles a murder scene when it’s all said and done. Further, to quote the literary giant, Bo Jackson, “the baby comes out looking like it’s been dipped in glue.” Bo knows birthing.

However, the pain a woman goes through during birth is replaced by joy when she sees for the first time the little human being she’s just ushered into the world. (But there’s still pain. My wife wanted to make sure I said there is still pain. Lots and lots of pain.)

The pain you’re feeling in pursuing your want, dream, or desire will fade as you usher it into this world. Although, just like child birth, the pain won’t go away completely. Those are called “scars,” friends, and you’re bound to get a few on the journey.

3. You do your best thinking when you’re backed into a corner (or couch).

One of my mentors once told me (paraphrasing) “you do your best thinking when desperation looms in the distance.” In other words, you don’t know how creative you can be until it’s essential for survival.

When my arm was stuck, I went to worst-case scenario almost immediately: I’m going to have to gnaw my own arm off like that guy in the James Franco flick just to get free.

To prevent this from happening, I got creative. I’ll spare you the details of how I loosed myself, but let’s just say I had NO idea I was that flexible. I would never have known I possessed those abilities had I not been trapped.

You will surprise yourself when you’re backed into a corner. If you take the risk and start your own business, you’ll be amazed at what you can do when your survival is at stake. (And “survival” can mean any number of things.)

Do not underestimate what you are capable of.

4. Do not give up. Do not accept substitutes. Do not bail.

You’ll be tempted to bargain and make agreements with yourself when pursuing a dream, desire, or want. You’ll want to take the goal down a few notches; settle for rice cakes instead of the filet mignon; go for fifth place instead of the gold medal. You’ll convince yourself to “be more realistic,” and never feel fully satisfied in the process.

I could have cancelled all my credit cards, ordered new ones, and requested a replacement license from the Iowa DOT. I could’ve easily replaced the Slim Wallet I got a few Christmases ago, and I’m sure the good folks at Mars would’ve replaced my loyalty card.

Q: How silly would that have been?

A: Very.

I knew what I wanted and wasn’t going to stop until I got it. Period. Realistically, I could have easily moved the couch back a few feet and grabbed my wallet, but I was being lazy and it cost me.

We have so many avenues, ways, and opportunities in front of us we’re not even aware of. We simply give up entirely too soon.

Want a formula for getting what you want? Here it is: write down your dreams, wants, desires, plan an initial path, adjust as needed, and don’t give up when it gets tough.


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Getting your arm stuck did someone else for you, too - it gave you a great story to share! Pursuing any dream will be hard, painful, scar-inducing work, but it's always worth it. Even if the dream doesn't come to pass, you grow in the process, and are better equipped to pursue a different dream. Good reminders, Justin. Oh, and I'm assuming you got your wallet back..lol