Culture

Do It Because It's Hard

John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy and son
John F. Kennedy and son
President John F. Kennedy holding hands with son John F. Kennedy Jr. at the White House. | Photo: JFK Collection, ZUMA Press | John F. Kennedy, President, Jr., White House, Son, Democrat,

Challenging yourself is essential for growth.

If all we had to do in life to be successful is do what comes easy to us, then life would be pretty sweet. But that's not the case. In order to grow, evolve, and better ourselves, we have to step outside the confines of familiarity and do the hard stuff.

Anyone of my clients or mentees will tell you that one of my mantras is that "comfortability is the enemy". You do yourself a disservice when you only pursue the low hanging fruit. Not only that, but you create a persona that you probably didn't intend, but it is what's perceived. The perception that you place more import on ease and comfort than you do challenge and growth.

I recently had a coaching client who has a passion in life. Already they're ahead of the game because so many of us are still looking for that in life. When discussing an opportunity that had been presented to them that would allow them to pursue their passion full-time and on a grander stage, I sensed apprehension from them about exploring it. What seemed like a no-brainer to me had posed a serious dilemma in their life. As a coach, my job is to ask the right questions, so I asked, "what happens if you explore this opportunity?" The answer said it all. They commenced with a clumsy, yet well-rehearsed explanation of what might not work and all of the time constraints, and all of the possible personality conflicts that may result from the move, and all of the effort, and all of the buy-in required, and blah blah blah. My follow up question was, "oh, so your passion is not worth all of the hassle?" It all boiled down to it "might be hard".

As we made our way through unpacking their underlying fear for difficult tasks, I recalled a conversation with an old Navy buddy from almost two decades ago. We were discussing what we'd done in our lives before the military. I didn't have much to contribute to the conversation because I'd joined right out of high school. He, on the other hand was in his mid-twenties and had been a part of the real world workforce prior to joining the Navy. He told me that he had worked as a certified mechanic, yet he was working as a carpenter for the Navy. Of course, as an 18-19 year old punk, I was sure that I had the world figured out and I was more than happy to share my world view as to enlighten whoever I was talking to. In my infinitesimal wisdom, I said to him with a frustrated and quizzical look on my face - "Why would you do that? Why not be a mechanic as you were in the civilian world?" He answered me calmly with, "That would be too easy - I already know how to do that". He had already learned the lesson that was - at that point, still at least a year into my future. The seed had been planted. I went on to start seeking out challenges. I became hungry for growth.

So often, we let what "might be hard" get in our way on the path to greatness - all for the sake of comfort. As leaders, we should become comfortable with being uncomfortable. We should view obstacles as opportunities to LEAD! Leadership is influence, every challenging situation is an opportunity to expand our influence. Either in a positive way by making the best of the situation, or in a negative way by proclaiming "woe is me" for the bad fortune of always befalling you. Either way, someone is looking and sometimes, taking their cues from you.

In my program, The Five Spheres of Leadership, sphere number one goes into detail about the most important form of leadership - Self Leadership. In order to lead yourself toward growth, and static uncomfortability, you must make conscious decisions to challenge yourself with difficult situations. You must be disciplined enough to follow-through. You must be courageous enough to take the lumps that are guaranteed to come your way when you decide to throw yourself in the mix. You must be willing to do the heavy lifting when no one else will.

John F. Kennedy famously said "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard..." Think about the magnitude of the notion that we, as a nation, would create a flying machine that would take a human being from our planet to another celestial body having only figured out the science of flight a mere 60 years prior. Now take that quote and substitute the moon for your grand goals in life. You must know that any goal worth accomplishing, is worth the difficulty involved in its attainment. The difficulties you encounter serve to prepare you for the position you will occupy in the end-game.

Doing what's easy is easy, so go out and challenge yourself to grow past your comfort zone, and into the new and empowered you!

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Updated May 6, 2017 5:51 AM EDT | More details

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