I have been reflecting on a reality about myself: I am most fulfilled after hard work and effort, to the point that if something isn’t hard work, and is (gasp) easy, I’m not as interested in pursuing it and certainly not as fulfilled by it. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
In other words, why is working hard at and/or for something so important to me? What is that all about?
- Below are some of the responses/reasons I’ve come up, to the question, “What does hard work get me?:
The end — or “reward” — is greater
More memorable experience
Close to my limits
More possibilities (options)
An opportunity to fight the saboteur that says I can’t do it
You know the saying, nothing worthwhile is easy.
I know most everyone works hard. I’m not special in that I like hard work. But in thinking about all this I’ve realized that some of the experiences that resulted in the greatest outcomes for me, and, resulted in “transformation,” were experiences that were particularly hard — beyond my original expectations — and through which I had to endure. I’m talking about those experiences you’d likely never choose to do again, but that helped develop you and grow you in ways that are invaluable.
I can recall many of these experiences, but following are two examples.
One was in the early 1990s when, as newlyweds, Jerry and I moved away from the beautiful Rocky Mountains to a very small town in the Midwestern plains. The job was stressful and the environment was not what we preferred (it didn’t have any mountains). It was hard in all senses of the word. Every day was a trial at work and away from work.
The outcome, however, was that because of the experience, I’m smarter and better. But would I do it again? Would I have signed up for it if I had known just how difficult it would be? I’m not sure I would. And yet, no question, it was a more rewarding and valuable experience as a result of the hardships.
Another is my Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim of the Grand Canyon last May. Sure, doing it in one day is hard enough. But doing most of it with two fully-blistered feet meant it was much harder than I expected or that it should have been. The experience required me to stretch mentally and emotionally beyond anything I had ever been required to do before. And as a result, it was a deeply transformative experience for me, for which I’m grateful. I am stronger and my “limits” of capability are set higher as a result.
My point here is that often we are transformed (and made stronger and better) as a result of a trying experience only after it’s over. While we may not have signed up for it had we known all it would entail, we don’t regret it. We can’t.
I think one understanding I gain from this reflection is that we should in fact do some things now and then that are so hard they are scary. If for no other reason than to learn and further develop ourselves.
And by the way, why is it that we so often think that unless it’s hard, it’s not work? In fact, travel and tourism promotion, content development, marketing, social media, blogging, etc., all come pretty easy to me. As a result, sometimes it’s hard for me to count these things as real work, but they are.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, Outliers, The Story of Success, which I highly recommend, wrote about how it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to really master a skill. I’ve definitely put in 10,000 hours of “work” in the aforementioned core competencies so perhaps that’s why work sometimes feels too easy to be considered work.
So. Doing things that are hard comes easy to me. Doing things that are easy comes hard to me. See how this works? I should like doing things that are easy because their being easy actually makes them hard.
Thanks for tuning in and reading. I really appreciate your readership and support.
P. S. I would love to get your input/comments on this post, or about how you view hard work and hard effort. Thanks