Do the Hard Thing and Come out On Top

“Do the hard thing” - It’s one of my favorite sayings--just ask my kids, who will most likely roll their eyes at the mere mention of it.

Life throws choices at us every single day. Most often the tougher choices are whittled away to just two: the easy way or the hard way. Imagine it. One road is short, paved, with sun shining overhead, birds singing, and a possible downwind to help you along your way. Nice, right? The other is a dirt road, lined with rock, hills, bugs, and in a torrential downpour, with wind slapping in your face as you make your way onto it. Now, why on earth would anyone choose road #2 over road #1? In my experience, I have found that 9 times out of 10, the better choice is to take the harder road. I know, I know. . . but, before you roll your eyes and turn away like one of my kids, let me illustrate a few examples to prove my theory.

To stay physically fit and healthy, requires workout time. Quite often for me, my window of time is before the sun gets up. It requires me to climb out of my flannel sheets when my alarm goes off, put on my trainers, and head out into the sometimes sub-freezing temperatures. Hard? Yes. Worth it? Definitely. Not only do I feel better physically after my workout, but mentally and emotionally I am primed and ready to tackle the day. Sure I could choose the easier route by rolling out of bed, getting in the shower and heading to work (and yes I’ve had those days too) but then I don’t reap the benefits of all that a morning workout offers. Or, say your workout time is in the evening, how much easier is it to sit in front of the TV, munching on chips, rather than stepping outside to get your heart rate going for 30 min? Hard, but never impossible.

It all comes down to what do you want most. If you most want to stay healthy and clear-minded, doing the hard thing and getting that exercise is your only option. If you are not choosing the harder path and getting that exercise then that is evidence that staying healthy is not what you want most. I know that, because I have “let myself go” before. It’s easy to let work and life keep you from exercising, especially when you didn’t really want to exercise to begin with… it isn’t what you want most.

The same concept can be applied to your job. Maybe it’s easier to stay in a job you hate, rather than taking the time to look, apply and go through the process of finding something better. And how about starting your own business? Speaking from experience, I can say that it is definitely the harder road, which is why I can also say it is the better choice to make. If you can get through the rough parts, the steep inclines, the reward at the end far outweighs any reward from taking the easy road. Here are just a few of the “rewards” that are waiting on the other side of that harder road:

  1. You are stronger than you know. How will you know your limits unless your limits are tested? I have a child with Type 1 Diabetes and quite often I hear others say “I could never do what you do.” Like having any illness, often choices are out of our control, but how we choose to deal with those challenges will stretch and push our capabilities beyond what we ever thought possible. In the end, you will realize you are capable of so, so much more.

  2. You will face your demons without fear. Self-doubt and fear of failure or judgement are obstacles that could keep you from accomplishing the task at hand. Why not just throw in the towel? When you get to this point, and strip away all the unnecessary baggage, you get to the core reason you are on this road in the first place. If you learn what really matters, then facing the demons of doubt become much easier, not only with the task you’re undertaking, but in every other aspect of your life. Your confidence will shine.

  3. Mind over matter. Mastering the mind is an ongoing battle (refer back to my warm flannel sheets), but one that if successful, will prove that there is no cap, no limit, to your success. Open your mind to the possibilities! Jesper Kenn Olsen, who ran around the world not once, but TWICE, and is the author of Runner’s Guide to the Planet. He said, “ The body is much more capable than the mind is. It’s the fact that the mind can’t imagine doing things that we don’t think we can. But your body adapts — if you give it time — to anything. It’s your mind that takes a while to catch up.” Olsen ran around the world to discover where his “perceived” limits were. It was his mental, not physical, limits that made the task seem impossible. First imagine yourself doing it. Master the thought. Then DO it. You will surprise yourself.

  4. Increased work ethic. Maybe in the past you’ve been just another number, punching the time card, getting your hours in, content to flow along with the steady stream of habit. But have you ever considered swimming upstream? Salmon swim upstream yearly to spawn, but only the strongest fish successfully make the journey, further benefiting future generations. The harder way hurts, yes, but will in the end increase your ability to work.--not only harder, but better.
    Derek Jeter, one of the greatest baseball players of our time, said, “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.”

  5. You will discover who you are. You never know what life will throw at you or what choices you’ll need to make, but when you are stretched to your limits, you realize what you are really made of. The harder road almost always reveals truths you never knew before: who to trust, what your limits are, your fears. But, also in this revelation of truths, you will learn to trust yourself more and your ability to face the next obstacle head-on.

We, as humans, are more inclined to take the easier route. In fact, the very laws of physics say the path of least resistance is generally the one taken. The good news is you are not content to be ordinary. Because of that, you are in for some great success, my friend.

A quote I love from Grant Cardone says:

"Massive thoughts must be followed by massive actions. There is nothing ordinary about the 10X Rule. It is simply what it says it is: 10 times the thoughts and 10 times the actions of other people…You never do what others do. You must be willing to do what they won’t do – and even take actions that you might deem ‘unreasonable.’”

Next time you find yourself in front of a fork in the road, faced with decision, don’t hesitate! Step onto the rocky path. While others sit on sidelines sipping their sodas, you’ll be the racehorse others are betting on.

Tell us: What “hard thing” are you still struggling to take on? Asking for that promotion? Getting a small business loan to start your own business? Something else entirely?

Written by Mike Williams

I am a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business experience. My goal with this blog is to pass on some of what I have learned in order to help you achieve success in business.

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