At a recent meeting I attended with fellow Leader in Me administrators there was a video clip shown that struck a chord with me. Have you ever listened to, or watched, John F. Kennedy’s speech at Rice University? On September 12, 1962 our president outlined, in great detail, how we would get to, walk on, and return safely from the moon. In talking about the why he tells the crowd that we will go to the moon and do other things “…not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” Pretty good stuff, right?
I think it’s important to make a distinction here – doing something because it’s hard doesn’t mean that there is no guarantee of success. I ran a 100 kilometer race this past fall, and I knew full well that 63 miles was going to test me in a way that my previous running adventures never had, but I didn’t going in expecting failure. After spending 12 hours and 46 minutes covering the distance I can assure you, it was hard 🙂 The way I see it, that is no different than learning to play a new instrument, learning a new language, or even learning to read; the value is in the process and the process is what will empower us. You may not become a master guitar player or a fluent speaker of another language, but you will likely gain some amount of skill and be better off for the experience.
We do things that are hard because we see value in the struggle. It’s not about winning, it’s about doing something so difficult that it provides perspective for when we are in a situation to win. Life isn’t always like sports; it’s rarely as neat at 9 innings, 12 rounds, or 4 quarters. Ask yourself this question: do you seek out experiences that you know will challenge you, or you do simply wait for challenging situations to find you? I know that there is an element of proactive vs. reactive to this question, but there has to be more to it. As a child, I remember complaining about something to my parents and at times their response would be something along the lines of it’s character building. Looking back that may have been the case, but I don’t remember anyone ever telling me to find challenges that would build my character and I wish that would have been the case. If we get into the habit of doing something because it is hard, it provides context for all the things that land at our feet that we do not seek out.
By time you read this summer will be right around the corner and we will be enjoying our last few weeks of the 2016-2017 school year. I encourage you to spend time this summer doing something that you know is hard and reaping all the benefits that come with it. We may not be going to the moon this next school year, but I’m certain there are great things ahead and hard work that goes with it.