Richard Carlson tells us in the title of his wonderful little book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and it’s all small stuff.” He goes on to remind us, and I whole heartily agree, that as you focus more on becoming more peaceful with where you are, rather than focusing on where you would rather be, you begin to find peace right now, in the present. Then, as you move around, try new things, and meet new people, you carry that sense of inner peace with you. It’s absolutely true that, “Wherever you go, there you are.” I love that… peaceful, easy feeling. But sometimes, life isn’t always easy. Especially if you are trying to get an edge in a highly competitive world or inflame passion by the way you live your life. Even if you are competing only with a less inspired version of yourself.
My Jr. High football coach was an intimidating force to reckon with for me and my friends. We were all ready navigating the precarious minefield of puberty, let only the prospect of becoming real men. I remember well the impact his words had on me one day as we were wrapping up another practice where I once again had my lunch handed to me by the bigger kids. “Tonight, when you go home and while you’re laying on the floor in front your TV like a bunch of sissies …” he barked out like a drill sergeant, “Remember, there are kids out there doing the HARD stuff, like doing crunches… Why? Because they want to get an edge on you. They want to kick your pansy butts all over that field!”
His words resonated. That evening, while watching Gilligan’s Island, I do remember as I was getting up off the floor to get some more potato chips, I actually did a few sit ups. The rest of that season, I continued to have my lunch handed to me but those words have continued to resonate.
I have embraced the practice of always trying to do the harder things that, I am supposing, others were less inclined to do. It’s the hard things that are the easiest things to avoid. For some, it’s daunting to choose to prepare nutritious meals rather than eating dinner from a paper sack passed through a window by a pimply faced teenage in a drive up “restaurant.” Its easier to sleep in an extra hour rather than get up early for a vigorious work out or invest time in prayer and meditation. Some choose to invest in a life coach or mentor to help them get that edge while others never ask for help of any kind.
Here is a helpful list of some harder things complied by blogger Dan Waldschmidt:
- 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 make mistakes and look like an idiot.
- You have 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.
- You have to do the hard things.
The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on. Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.
The hard things are the easiest things to avoid. To excuse away. To pretend like they don’t apply to you.
The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage — or desperation — to do. Don’t be afraid to sweat the hard stuff. You may discover how incredibly amazing you really are!