The Hard Stuff

Recently I read a wonderfully succinct article  which struck me in between the eyes. It was both empowering and hard hitting……and very appropriate as we begin month #2 in 2014.

I have tried to consolidate the key points below. In a nutshell, the concept is all about ‘doing the hard things’ – the things we dread, the things which are scary, the things which are daunting. Frankly, my parents reared my sister and I to not skirt from those things which we didn’t want to do. Yet, as we grow older those ‘things’ are bigger than ‘eating all our green peas’ or ‘keeping our annual dentist appointment’. These things may include making the hard call to let an employee go that was not delivering against expectation. It may be facing a cancer diagnosis with optimistic resiliency. It may be supporting a friend as they navigate an unbelievable betrayal of another friend.

The list below, from Dan Waldschmidt’s article is both blatantly honest and vulnerable – two of my favorite qualities in people and in writing. It was thought provoking to me and also quite energizing.

  • You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
  • You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
  • You have to give more than you get in return right away.
  • You have to care more about others than they care about you.
  • You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
  • You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
  • You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
  • You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
  • You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
  • You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
  • You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
  • You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts.”
  • You have to try and fail and try again.
  • You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
  • You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
  • You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
  • You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
  • You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.

Net: we have to do the hard things. These are indeed the things that define us – and make us stronger. It is very easy to rationalize NOT doing these things, and pretend that everyone but us needs to do these. Yet, these are the things that define our character. These are the things that create our destinies and our legacies. As we continue our journeys in ‘earth school’, we have the unique opportunity in our careers, our work, our volunteer efforts, and in our lives to make the hard calls and swim that last heroic mile.  The choice is ours – each day, each moment. What will we choose?