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Honor the Struggle

Updated: May 22, 2019

I recently came back from a thing called High Performance Academy. It was an interesting, invigorating, and energizing 4 days in sunny Phoenix with 2,000 of my closest friends. Brendon Burchard, a leading self-empowerment guru and executive coach, taught us for about 5 hours a day, and for the rest of the day we did group exercises, jumped around, met new people, and had the typical conference experience. I’m still sorting through the dozens of pages of notes I took, but one huge note I took was this:

Yes. Honor the struggle.

I didn’t really and truly “get” the meaning of this until I came home and thought on it for a few days. I knew it was important. It was one of the themes of the event. But, I didn’t really get what it meant, at the time.

Honor the struggle.

Now, though. I get it. It means that anything worth having is really hard. If you don’t expect it to be hard, you’ll never finish it. You’ll never accomplish the thing. You’ll never put in the work it takes to get it done. You’ll never survive the criticism and jabs of people who don’t understand or ‘get’ why you’re doing the thing. You’ll never make it passed your first tough spot or over the mid-way hump.

If you’re going to do a hard thing, you have to recognize that it is going to be hard and honor it… Really – you have to Respect it.

I see this in my clients and, if I’m being honest, in myself.

When I suggest (or my coach suggests to me) a schedule change or some sort of not-easy-adjustment, the first reaction is usually resistance. It’s natural to resist. No one immediately, willingly, takes on a big challenge. No one is like, “Woo hoo! Some struggle! Bring it on!”

We want to be comfortable. We want the status quo. Sitting and doing nothing is awesome if you don’t want anything to change. Doing nothing is the absolute best way to have zero friction in your life. It’s the best way to avoid conflict and keep things on par with how things are.

Anything we want to change, though, is going to cause friction. Why? Because motion – any motion – causes friction. It’s just science, y’all. Motion causes friction. And, as I’ve learned through a million books and from life itself, anything that’s really worth having is going to be hard. Again: life fact. It is.

So, if we don’t honor the struggle, or respect the wrestle, then, honestly, it’s probably not going to happen.

We have to lean into the discomfort. Embrace it. Ask it out on a date and then ask it to go steady. We have to bring it into our hearts and let it take us to the next level. The struggle, the wrestle, the uphill-climb is where growth comes.

My mom said something to me once that comes to mind when I think of this honoring the struggle. She said, “no plant grows without breaking the ground first.” Oh, mom. You’re so right.

That ground breaking is hard. It’s hard work to pull weeds and sow seeds and it takes patience and tending for something good to grow.

So here are my words of comfort and affirmation to you all today:

As you’re looking at the next great thing for you – are you hesitating to pull the trigger? Do you feel like you lack the motivation to move on? Are you missing the get-up-and-go to start working your way up the hill to the precipice of success? The first step in this is to recognize and accept – deeply respect – that it is going to be hard if its worth anything. And then? Ask for help. We all need someone in our corner to support us, hold us accountable, and give us the extra oomph to get over a tough spot. That’s what coaches are for. And great friends. And mentors. But those people can’t let you skim over the hard parts. Remember, ground breaking is tough, but necessary.

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