I was in a local bookstore a few days ago and ran across a book called Do Hard Things. It was written by two teenagers and targeted to high school kids, but the message could be aimed at anyone. It is touted as a rebellion against low expectations.
As I flipped through the book, I found myself thinking about how at times I have a tendency to settle for less than my best. How much easier is it to do the minimum rather than do something difficult?
- Why go through the pain of getting up early to exercise when you could sleep?
- Why rock the boat at work when you can ignore the problem and hope it will eventually take care of itself?
- Why have that difficult conversation with an estranged friend?
You see, the world doesn’t really expect a lot from us. Hold a job, pay taxes, stay out of trouble, that’s about it. We all know we’ll be better off for taking on the diffcult things in life, though. Fear of failure, laziness, lack of time, there are a million reasons not to do it. For me its a fear of failure that keeps me from stepping up. It takes about ten seconds for me to start worrying. What if I screw it up? What will everyone say? I come up with about 10 reasons I can’t do something instead of focusing on the 20 reasons I can do it.
So how about you? What is it that you need to do?
Go ahead, make a list of three things you’ve been putting off because they’re going to be hard, really hard. Put the list on your mirror. Tape it to your dashboard. Find a close friend to help keep you accountable. Make progress each day toward at least one of the things on your list. As you make progress step by step, the fear you feel will diminish. The thing you thought would be so grueling, so demanding, so IMPOSSIBLE — will actually happen.
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds.”
The back cover of the book, Do Hard Things, summed it up for me.
“Most people don’t expect you to understand what we’re going to tell you in this book [to do the difficult things in life]. And even if you understand, they don’t expect you to care. And even if you care, they don’t expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don’t expect it to last.
Well, we do.”
Image by: Geri-Jean Blanchard