Hard is subjective. And relative. Your first stadium steps workout is hard. So is an Ironman. The New York Times Crossword puzzles are hard. So is watching your soldier son head to Afghanistan.
I challenge my training clients and sometimes they stop midway and tell me “this is hard.” Dig deeper, I ask.
I challenge my coaching clients to answer difficult questions about themselves. Sometimes the answers are hard to see. The truth is your freedom and your ticket to change, I suggest.
To me, “hard’ is not a signal to stop. It’s a signal to grow. I study my clients. I’m confident I’m not asking them to do something they’re not capable of. What I’m really challenging them to do is ditch their self-limiting beliefs and see possibilities.
I find lots of hard in my own history. I believe each of those personal events helped build me. At the done side of something hard, I had grown up. Gotten stronger. In hindsight, those events were opportunities. Now when I think to myself “this is hard”, I’ve got evidence to support the belief that I can handle hard.
When hard presents itself, we have options. Freeze. Shrink. Or expand. It’s a choice, based on a belief (that you may or may not realize). To expand, we call on something deeper. There’s a saying: “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”. Or the choice you make.
Yesterday I watched a friend eulogize her Father. She had cared for him throughout his last days and held his hand in his final moment. She told me she woke up yesterday morning and lay in bed searching for the thought she needed to get her through the day. She landed on: “I’ve got this”. It felt right.
She had good reason to believe. Her Father taught her about strength. To not settle for good enough. To believe that she could do hard things. He knew she could. Still, this was hard.
She was amazing. I cried at her strength. Standing before the congregation with a beautiful smile, speaking with grace and clarity of her childhood memories and of a man who clearly had a tremendous influence upon her.
They were both right. That thought; “I’ve got this”, came from a seed he had planted long ago and nurtured for decades. He believed. In her mind yesterday, strength was the only choice she had. And now, I believe, she has shown herself.
We can do hard things.
And they make us stronger.