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September 25, 2018

Do Hard Things

by Michael Hughes

Picture this: It’s Monday, you finish a 12 hour work day, doing what you love, come home and kiss you daughter before she goes to bed, and then you and your wife roll up your sleeves and move 52 wheel barrels of dirt from your yard to a dump truck parked on the other side of the property. To some, that would be a hellish start to a work week. But quite honestly, it was a really rewarding day for me. 

If you read my newsletter a couple months ago about building the fence line to our new house the “right way”, the dirt relocation project was one more side effect project of having done this fence line correctly. But this particular dirt pile, which looked more like a small mountain range, had been taunting me for weeks. Every day, it would be there, staring at me, on my way to work as well as when I got home from work. It was just an eye sore, begging to be removed. I hadn’t made time for it in weeks, but Monday was the big day. We had borrowed a dump truck, and we had found someone who needed the dirt for their landscaping goals. We only had 24 hours to load it. 

It took us 3.5 hours, from 8-11:30pm. It was a mental game, staying engaged and making progress in the dark, slowly moving dirt up a ramp into a big dump truck, while the neighbors looked out of their windows, wondering why this effort was being done in the cover of night. Just shoveling steadily, slowly making progress. Counting down the wheelbarrow loads. 

I was raised on good manual labor, working side by side with people who love to achieve a goal. No matter how laborious a task, I love the process, as well the results that comes from hard work.

I’m convinced that hard work changes you. It brings with it grit, perseverance and a fight to push to your goal. It generates a higher amount of appreciation for something when you tore it down it and built it up. It bonds you with those working next to you. Doing hard things is rewarding and builds pride.  

Doing hard things is refining. But what’s hard can be different for each of us.

In Gymnazo, we often ask members to do hard things. But what’s hard for one person may not be for someone else. For example, it may be hard for someone to have to step away from their fitness regimen to work on a nagging pain. It’s maddening to lose the sanity and endorphin rush that a quality workout can bring. To step back and deal with the pain, is hard. On the other side, we ask you to do hard things in fitness, too. We have to dig in, pick up a more challenging weight, move in a complicated way, and we have to turn off our brain and accept that we are going to finish this workout. 

Every day, I see our members commit to doing things that I know are hard for them. You can see it on their faces as they contemplate the effort, in light of the hoped-for reward. It’s powerful to witness. It makes me so proud of the indomitable human spirit that will conquer and press on with the right mindset and motivation. 

I had a good reminder of the reward that comes from simply putting your head down, focusing and striving through to reach your goal. That dirt pile is long gone and my satisfaction with our yard is soaring. 

No matter what hard thing is in front of you, I hope you never lose sight of why you need to get through it, and I hope that you always stop to celebrate it! If you are in a rut in your fitness routine or if you are nursing an ache or pain that nags at you, it may be time to do something hard to push to a new level. If you’re ready for that, come see me. I want to cheer for you as you tackle the “dirt pile” in your life and find the pride and satisfaction once it’s been dealt with!

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