I don’t know why, but I’ve always enjoyed things that take effort.
As a young person, the harder something was, the more I wanted to try it…from swimming across the lake and back, to riding a horse (even after I fell off repeatedly), to jumping out of an airplane, to taking a whole day to walk down one of the Swiss Alps.
As an adult, my competitive drive led me through a couple of graduate degrees, through the excitement of founding a business, the creativity of making short films, writing books and helping others.
None of these things was easy, but what marvelous memories and friends they have given me.
When I hear people sort of whining about how hard something is, as if the difficulty of achievement is a discouraging obstacle rather than an exciting challenge, I think about how empty my life would be if I never worked at doing things that are hard to do.
If a person always gives up and goes back to watching TV or texting instead of working through something hard to emerge triumphant (or wiser, or stronger, or more knowledgeable), that person risks never becoming more than they are right now.
And a full, rich life is all about becoming, isn’t it.
We’re born infants who become toddlers (who must master all sorts of difficult things, like walking, talking and eating without help) who become little kids (who must learn to read, write, add and subtract and all the other school, family and community stuff) who become teenagers, who become young adults, who become older adults and so on.
Becoming happens through effort…learning, thinking, trying, reflecting and trying again.
Life’s not all windswept hilltops and glittering sunrises. There are swamps to slog through and thick, brambly forests to struggle through. There are losses to endure and failures to accept and all of them contribute to the rich uniqueness of you.
Whether it’s learning to play a musical instrument, or learning a new language, or learning how to control your temper or learning to listen, or learning how to lead or how to follow, how to resist or how to cooperate, if you’re ever going to become something/someone more than you are right now, you’ll have to do difficult things. There’s really no way around it.
So I encourage you (as I encourage myself) to value those accomplishments that require real effort. Let them tell you how strong you are, how resilient, how inventive, how intelligent.
Wrestling with the difficult develops character, strengthens abilities and enlarges the heart. Take on the challenge and see what you can become.
As Walt Disney once said, "It’s kind of fun to do the impossible."