What Will You Learn by Doing the Hard Thing?

pexels-photo.jpgTalking with a friend over dinner recently, we reminisced about the days when we were fireballs. We were fearless and felt invincible. Hard things didn’t scare us.

In my 20s if someone dared me to do something I did it mostly because they dared me. Not because I’d thought through all the possible repercussions. I’ve also done things under the heading of “It’ll be a great story to tell the grandkids.” Sometimes you know there will be “hell to pay” for some choices you make. Other times, we make choices that should be innocuous only to find them in the “you gotta be kidding” file when the repercussions hit. When they hit, you might be faced with hard choices.

Pipe Dreams

When Tracy G and I were in our twenties, we sat on cheap folding chairs around a card table in my apartment, talking about being in a band. The guy with us played guitar. We might’ve sung one song that night, but that’s a sketchy memory. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not one to stand in the spotlight, that’s just not my comfort zone.

church-gothic-normandy-building-39658.jpegTracy and I waited tables. Talking about being in a band was a dream. And, mostly it was just talk from two girls who wanted to make a lot more money. She liked singing and the only instrument I played was the radio.

One day my boss calls saying she doesn’t need to come back to work. When I ask what that’s about, she said, “I hear your band is going on tour. I need someone who can stay and do the job.”

She didn’t really want to hear that I wasn’t in a band, didn’t own an instrument and had never played a single solitary gig. She didn’t amend her decision and I wasn’t about to take it lying down. I filed a complaint against her with workman’s comp and won. She paid my unemployment for about 6 months while I looked for another job.

What I learned

It’s not easy to go against an established business and beat them at their own game. But I did. Doing the hard things in this life are worth the time and effort they take. Why? Because most people won’t do them.

Many people want to take the path of least resistance.

Successful people do what’s hard because they know that without the refining fires of challenge, you never really know what you are capable of. You never reach the best version of you. You never become all that you could have been. Successful people learn from the hard things.

fire breatherOtherwise, you’re settling.

Certainly at least once (and maybe more than that) you’ve gotten to the end of something and thought, “If I had known how hard that was going to be at the beginning, I wouldn’t have started.”

I have. But the next thought is, well, I did it! And the next time, it isn’t hard. That doesn’t always mean doing things the hard way. Doing hard things isn’t a guarantee that you will succeed at all of them. But when you succeed, it’s sweet victory! It spurs you on to another challenge. Even if you fail you’ve learned what doesn’t work.

One friend of mine in a violent relationship was told she wouldn’t ever leave her abuser. But you know what? It took planning and a lot of help, but she did. And it changed her life.

Another friend was told she could never write a book. They implied she wasn’t smart enough. But she accomplished it and it’s on bookshelves at a bookstore in my city right now. And it increased her visibility in her field.

pexels-photo-187407What does this mean for you?

Maybe you’ve been told you can’t change jobs, you can’t start your own business, you can’t lose weight. You don’t have to accept that as the final answer. If you’re willing to invest time in your goal, it doesn’t matter how long it takes if that’s what you want. Reaching goal is the important thing, not the time it takes.

We can’t listen to the people who don’t walk in our shoes. They don’t know what you’re made of. And sometimes we don’t know ourselves until we give a difficult challenge our all.

Maybe you’re facing something right now that looks impossible. Maybe others are saying you can’t do it. What do you want? How can you break it down into manageable chunks and work at it a little at a time?

Please let me hear from you about your challenge. I will spur you on!

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