COLUMN: It’s still ok to do hard things

You only get physically stronger by picking up heavy things. You only grow in knowledge through investing time in education. You only gain experience by grinding through challenges.  If you are going to make progress in any area of your life, you are likely going to have to put forth some level of effort over time. 

This concept of growth is not new by any means; however, it is not widely accepted by many in our culture today.  

Unfortunately, we have transitioned into an “instant” society that also steers away from hard things.   Many have lost the patience to persevere with so much available at the touch of a finger.  You don’t have to search for answers on a subject today.  You can just type in a question and get an instant answer.  Many have also lost the willingness to embrace tough challenges with the focus on comfort.  If you aren’t happy with a situation, you can just quit and seek another opportunity.  Very few are forced to persevere and struggle through challenging times.  Avoiding the long, challenging road of uncertain results appears more popular today than ever.  

The comfortable, easy path will not lead to growth. If you want to focus on security, comfort, and the “living your best life” philosophy of life, you can forget about meaningful growth. Growth is the result of working through tough challenges, uncomfortable situations, and embracing some level of risk.  Growth may also require perseverance over long periods of time.  The challenging element of growth is that we oftentimes don’t see progress in the short-term.  With no obvious short-term benefit, many choose comfort over hard. 

The comfortable path will be easy to see.  It will be flat with few obstacles.  This path will be wide and very well lit.  It will be very appealing to most people.  At the end of this path there will be nothing meaningful.  Conversely, the hard path will have steep slopes, many obstacles, and will be dark in areas.  This path will be narrow and contain great uncertainty throughout.  The hard path will require commitment, perseverance, hard work, and faith.  At the end of this path will be potential, fulfillment, and purpose.  

Regardless of your stage of life, don’t settle for the easy road.  Don’t avoid challenging situations. Embrace the opportunity to grow by engaging with the “hard”. Ask the hard questions. Tackle the hard issues. Choose the hard road.  Growth is natural for healthy people.  Young people need to embrace challenging work, challenging conversations, and challenging opportunities.  Similarly, those of us moving toward retirement years need to continue to embrace challenges to continue to grow as well.  With more discretionary time, we need to ensure we seek “hard things” as well to continue to stimulate physical and mental growth.

Keep growing and keep living!