“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” – John F. Kennedy
Human is lazy by nature. We are triggered for the easy stuff. It’s not a surprise that it’s more difficult to wake up to go for a run than staying in bed. Unless we impose ourselves to go on the harder path, we won’t fall on it by luck. You can find yourself on the easy way without even knowing it. Just look at your life and you’ll most likely see areas where you’re avoiding hard work. I’ve found that the hard way can be tricky. What used to be a zone of danger, can become the new comfort zone. Therefore, even in the improvements that we achieve, we will find a way to keep to status quo.
One of my best personal example, I’ve set a goal to read much more during the past three years. This year, I will be near the double of my last year number. It’s ten time bigger than it was 5 years ago. I’ve notice that the more I’m reading, the more I tend to go for books that I’m comfortable with. I’m plainly avoiding the hard way. I know I should be reading thick books like The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, The Last Lion Trilogy or War and Peace. In the end, they would give me much more benefits and knowledge. That’s why I’ve started The 48 Laws of Power that was in my bookshelf for years. That’s why I’ll get into The Selfish Genes after even if this is the kind of book that isn’t easy for me.
I did the same pattern in the gym for a few years. I was avoiding the most difficult. I was skipping deadlift and squat. Plain and simply because they are difficult and painful exercises. The truth is that it was what I needed the most to do. What we tend to avoid is most likely what we should be doing. I’ve avoided having a real weightlifting plan before stumbling upon 5/3/1. It was way easier to write my own program and build it around my skills. Doing more of the easy, doing less of the difficult.
You can see through history than many people had success by taking the hard way. Arnold Schwarzenegger took the hard way when he has decided to move to America. He left Austria, his friend and his family behind. He wanted to be a professional bodybuilder and that’s what he did. Without that move, maybe we wouldn’t even know him today. Taking the hard way lead him to take it again and again. It became a habit for him. Watch Pumping Iron and you’ll someone who is embracing the hard way. Doing Hollywood movies with english as a second language isn’t the easy way. We could say the same for becoming governor of California. All his life turned around doing hard things.
You want another example? Napoleon Bonaparte was dethroned in 1814 and was sent in captivity in the Island of Elba near Italia. He was a prisoner, but he was living the life of a rich noble. He could still see friends and family. He was free inside the island, but couldn’t leave it. Staying there for him was the easy way. He chose to escape in 1815, he went back to France and took back his throne in a matter of days. He stayed 100 days in power until he was defeated in Waterloo. It didn’t finish well for him. He tried and he could have succeed. He went on the hard way instead of dreaming about it. The good news is that unlike Bonaparte, most of the risks we will take during our lives won’t be as dramatic.
The whole idea is doing what you aren’t comfortable of doing. Look at the thing you are the most avoiding. Start doing them. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Go beyond your threshold. You will see how your life will take a sudden turn. I was afraid of doing For Victory or Death for months until I decided to take the hard way. I was finding every reasons on earth to avoid writing. Looks like I’m not dead yet.