I'm a big proponent of everything in life having a reason. I was always the kid asking, "But why? But why? But whyyy?" My parents found out early on in my life that 'because I said so' would only get them so far.
For most of my young adult life, I lived by the philosophy of "If there is not a good reason to do it right now, it must not be important enough to do." That was until my freshman year of high school in Mr. McCord's Algebra II class. Mr. McCord was a gentle and good-natured man whose zeal for math was evident in how he taught. The first couple of weeks of freshman year was review from the year prior so I went along with the time-consuming worksheets and seemingly superfluous long equations. When we started our first unit of new content, my 'but why' instincts kicked in and I began to revolt. I would stay after class from bell to bell just to argue over the principality and necessity of not just his homework, but the concept of homework in general. One day the conversation came to a halt when I said what we've all thought at least once in our lives about math.
"Why would I spend time learning this if I'm never going to use it in the real world?"
He slowed, exhaled, and smiled. Almost as if he had been waiting for me to ask that very question. "Jason you wrestle, right?"
"Wrestling is a pretty tough sport..." he said, leading me down a trail I didn't know I was on.
"Yeah, probably the hardest thing I'll ever do."
"Algebra is pretty hard too. And you're right about one thing, you may never use algebra in the real world, but the chances of you using a half-nelson are pretty slim too. You're wrong about something too. We can't know if wrestling will be the hardest thing you do in your life. So, we do hard things now, like Algebra and Wrestling, to make sure we are ready to face the hard things later in life."
How many times have we used our lack of foresight as an excuse to avoid doing things we don't want to do? We ask other people to give us a reason to endure a hardship or fight through a challenge and when they can't, we throw in the towel. We miss out of the benefits of completing that task, but we also lose an opportunity to develop resilience. I spent the first part of my life asking others to give me a reason to do hard things and in doing so missed out on the benefits of gritting my teeth and just doing them.
Instead of looking to the world for a reason to endure, the people who can endure the most in life and come out the other side seemingly unscathed are those that inwards. People that seek out challenges without a discernible reason as to why often have an innate driving force that pushes them to do hard things. And they become better for it.
I ended up with a B in Mr. McCord's class, the first B of my academic career. It turns out Algebra was harder than I thought. But I gained a perspective that made me a better wrestler, student, leader, and now business owner and husband. So I'll ask the question again... Why do things that you don't want to do?
Because YOU told you so.
Find something that is hard for you and try and do it for at least an hour this week. If you succeed the first time, find something harder.
What does failure in the immediate sense feel like to you (seconds or minutes after you realize you have failed at something)?
"The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same." - Steve Maraboli