The One Concept to Overcome Hard Things
How do you keep going?
Today’s issue is a little different. I polished up a draft of a story + lesson that has been bouncing around in my head. Let me know what you think!
One simple concept broke down the wall I’ve been stuck behind for months as I sat on the ground at the gym earlier this week, resting between climbs.
The idea applies to projects, business, and most often (for me) athletic pursuits.
How do you keep going when things get hard?
My most vivid climbing memory still makes me grimace and smile at the same time.
Halfway up a climb on the east side of the Sierra, I’m standing on a ledge staring at two difficult face-climbing moves.
I keep telling myself the one small metal block in the crack with protect me as I quest upwards. Yet I hesitate, halfway up a rock face, miles from any road, with zero cell service.
After what feels like an hour, but maybe amounts to three minutes, I pull with my fingers. I step my left foot up, reach high to another edge, and move past the scary part.
It takes sixty seconds to get through it and a wave of relief washes over me.
I conquered my fears and stepped up into the unknown. I reminded myself that most things get easier once you start. And more importantly, I reset my expectation of what is hard.
I can’t get this one line from the writer Nat Eliason out of my head:
“The proof you can do hard things is one of the most powerful gifts you can give yourself.”
But this week while hitting a wall at the climbing gym, I found no help in the knowledge that perseverance is good. I couldn’t make the moves. It felt too difficult.
What helped me was a line I heard on a podcast:
“This is what hard feels like.”
I find it’s a welcome reminder that most things worth doing require serious effort.
When you tackle a new challenge or difficult goal tell yourself - this is where most people stop.
Humans have adapted to incredibly tough circumstances throughout history.
The hard things will help you. And the struggles and challenges make us better. They prepare us for the next difficult moment.
This is why others don’t succeed. Pushing past is hard.
Hard things feel discouraging. It’s no surprise really.
And this is why most people can’t do it. But you can.
With this idea in my head, I stood up and put chalk on my hands. I grabbed the holds that felt too small to use. Knowing it’s supposed to feel like this, I grunted a bit too loud and sent a harder climb than I ever had.
Wouldn’t that be an amazing resolution? Unfortunately, it didn’t go that smoothly.
I only climbed four additional moves. But next time I’ll climb a few more moves, and they’ll add up so that one day soon I’ll complete that climb. And I’ll start the next one.
“If we are willing to take each step into the unknown with grit and determination, carrying with us all of our collected knowledge, we will ultimately get to where we’re going.” — Rick Rubin
Next time you find yourself stuck and need a little push remember:
This is what hard feels like.