Do Hard Things

When was the last time you chose to do something hard?  How often do you deliberately take a difficult path?  Most people, most of the time, do the opposite.  We choose the path of least resistance. In doing so, we miss a massive opportunity because hard things are a disruption and disruption creates a unique opportunity for change.

At telos, we call these periods of disruption liminal space and we hold these moments as sacred.  Something magical can happen if we choose to act with intention.  That means we pause, step back, and look at the big picture.  It means we ask hard questions about who we are and what really matters.  It’s the process of asking and answering these big questions that leads us toward positive change.

But not all disruption leads to positive change. Sometimes the disruption is so jolting that we feel rushed to get back to the way things were. We forget to ask hard questions. Sometimes the disruption is so severe it’s all we can do to get through. There’s no time or energy for introspection when your only goal is to survive.

What determines whether or not a disruption is going to lead to positive change?

The answer is clear… Preparation.

We must prepare ourselves for life’s inevitable disruptions.  But how? The research shows that by exposing ourselves to minor stressors we develop resilience. This resilience helps us to remain composed when the big disruptions come. Think of it as an inoculation to the pain of disruption.

What does this look like in practice?  How do we deliberately expose ourselves to helpful stressors?

One way is to consistently do hard things.

About six months ago I began my own hard-things practice in the form of cold water immersion.  The concept is simple, each day you submerge yourself up to the neck in 40-degree water.  In my case, starting this practice was complicated because I needed to build my cold plunge tank from scratch.  Let’s just say, I’m not handy.  I’m more Bob Ross than Bob Villa.  But I did it and now I start every morning with a cold plunge.  There are days when it’s the last thing I want to do, but those are the days when I know I need it the most.  There’s something powerful when it’s 7am and I know the hardest part of my day is over!  Jokes aside, I’m proud of my discipline and willingness to invest in my resilience every. Single. Day.

The easy path is deceptive.  There’s an opportunity cost to taking it, which is the opportunity to develop the resilience that is going to be necessary when a real challenge comes along.

What is one hard thing you can do today?

– Written by Mike Herzog, President & Chief Experience Officer