A dash of difficulty

Small tasks like to masquerade as gargantuan efforts.

Let’s take for example the humble email. Say you just finished reading a good book by a famous author, and you’d like to invite them onto your podcast. You’ve recorded 4 episodes of your podcast. An average of 28 people download your show every week. You’re small. They’re big. Emailing that famous author to invite them onto your podcast is like running a 5 minute mile with a stomach full of rotisserie chicken. They could strike your ego by responding with a polite ‘no.’ ‘No’ hurts. ‘No’ is what we’d rather not hear. No, not right now, sorry, perhaps at a different time. This is exactly why you should email that famous author onto your podcast. Because it’s difficult.

Do the difficult stuff first thing in the morning. When you wake up, go through your usual routine. Brush your teeth. Drink water. Shower. Pee, etc. Do whatever it is you do to remind you that you’re just a humble ol’ so-and-so, a mild-mannered sort of fellow, nothing out of the ordinary here officer. Once you’re done with that, get absolutely fucking evil. Do all the stuff you’d rather not do. Swallow down a spoonful of ‘no.’ Work out for an hour. Tie your running shoes and run. Even if it’s cold outside. Especially if it’s cold outside. Cold is just an extra serving of no. Then, eat breakfast. Drink coffee. Kiss your S.O good morning I love you. Pack your kids lunch and drive them back to their bedroom for Zoom school.

What’s next? The most difficult thing in the world. It’s what we spend our entire lives saying no to. It’s so difficult that dictators would rather send their people to war instead of doing it. It’s so ridiculously, stupidly difficult that only 3 books have ever been written on doing it well. It’s called writing, and it’s very hard to do. And that’s all the reason you need to do it. First thing in the morning.

The magic of difficult things is in their power to improve the quality of everything else. Your favorite ice cream tastes better. Your spouse is prettier. Your friends are funnier. Your favorite music is richer. It’s by sprinkling our lives with but a dash of difficulty that we grant it meaning.

By making a habit of doing a lot of difficult stuff everyday, you will no longer feel guilty about taking a break. Resting will no longer feel like an indulgence, some naughty thing to be ashamed of. Instead, you’ll be content with resting because, in the undying words of Tony the Tiger, you will have earned your stripes.

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