Earlier today I recorded a podcast episode with a woman who has become an amazing friend, Mandy Froehlich. During the course of our conversation, Mandy shared some amazing truths, some vulnerable stories, and dropped some powerful wisdom. At the end of our conversation though, she dropped more than that when she dropped three words that have been rattling around in my head all day long. “Sh*t is hard.” Yup…after more than 60 recorded episodes I finally had someone take the show from PG to PG-13, but I also heard something that smacked me across the face….yes, **it is hard….everything is hard…life is hard…and that’s how you know you’re living. “Sh*t is hard”
Growing up as a child I was labeled “gifted“. I was made to believe that everything was just going to always come easy to me. I believed I was born with a talent to just acquire everything by snapping my fingers while everyone else often had to struggle. From third grade, when I first received the label, until my freshman year of college, I honestly never really struggled in school. I bounced around a lot, as a Navy brat, seemingly always being the new guy in school, but that didn’t really matter. All I had to do was blend in, get good grades, then move on to a new school, in a new state, and start all over again. It was a good set up, that is, until life really started, life outside of the comfy confines of my “gifted” label.
I went to college with the goal of becoming a broadcaster. I dreamed of being on TV, delivering news, and being in the spotlight. During my childhood my favorite TV show was anything being broadcast on the Weather Channel. I had the dream from early on. I was going to chase storms, stand in front of the camera, and tell the world about what I was experiencing. But, as most of you know, I never lived that dream. I never had the chance to sit down in front of the camera and it’s all because I didn’t learn early on that “sh*t is hard.”
You see, as a freshman entering college with a declared major, I was on the fast track to a degree. I was able to bypass some basic pre-requisite classes and jump right into the courses in my plan. One of those courses was BCA 210 (Broadcast Communication Arts). This particular course required that I attend classes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8am-9:20am where I would be tasked with watching black and white movies from the early 1900’s and then writing a thematic analysis on each. As an 18 year old freshman, there were a few things about this course that made it a challenge. First- getting to class at 8am on Fridays when everyone knows Thursday nights are party nights in college -and-Secondly- staying awake watching black and white movies that often had no sound at 8am any day of the week. Needless to say, at the end of my first semester of college I had earned my first ever failing grade. As a matter of fact, this was my first grade ever earned below an A.
I know it sounds ridiculous to look back on it twenty five years later, but, back then I blamed everyone and everything for my failure. Everyone except myself. I blamed the registrar for requiring the course. I blamed the professor for his choice of movies. I blamed my roommates for keeping me up late at night. The fault was everyone’s, but mine. At the end of that semester I was confronted with a decision to make. I had to decide whether or not to sign up to take BCA 210 again or change paths and look for a program with fewer obstacles. I elected for the latter, giving up on my life long dream of being on TV. BCA 210 was a required course and if I wanted to earn my degree in broadcasting I had to take it.
It’s crazy to think how such a simple decision, two and half decades ago, completely altered the direction of my career and my life. My decision to pursue what was easy over what was hard changed my destiny. Now don’t get me wrong. I love being an educator. I loved my time in the classroom and I loved my time as an administrator, but even so, I can look back now and identify so many times I chose what was easy as opposed to what was right and often what was hard.
The reality is, often times when we are on the right track, “sh*t is hard.” Arrogance, conceit, and an inability to grow is a result of taking the easy path. Challenge, vulnerability, and growth are a result of doing what’s hard.
Many of you have heard me lament about my past couple of years. I have whined about how hard things have been. I have complained about how it seems like so much has come against me. Today, hearing those three words from Mandy, was exactly what I needed to hear. It is important to remember that when you are working to improve and working to accomplish greatness, it is going to be hard.
I look back now and wonder about how many great things I missed out on in life because accomplishing them just seemed too hard. Hard is good. The best people embrace what’s hard. It is important to remember those great things were hard for them to accomplish too. The difference is, they embraced what was hard and kept going.
When I am struggling to finish a marathon, it is easy to get inside my own head and complain about how much I hurt, and lose sight of the fact that every other person on the course is struggling. Some choose to keep going when it is hard. Some choose to step to the sidelines and give up on their dreams.
At this time of year, for many of us, life will feel hard. Trust me, I know. There will be times you feel like giving up. Trust me, I know. There will be times when you feel like everything is supposed to be easier. Trust me, I know. But you know what else I know…I know I don’t know it all and I never will. I know it’s not always going to be easy. I know some things will be a struggle. The more I am willing to embrace what’s hard, the more I am going to grow. I can’t believe it has taken me 42 years to finally hear three little words and one expletive, to finally get through to me….yup, sh*t is hard….and hard is good.
On the 15th of each month, I will send out my 2 Cents to The Lasting Learners e-mail group. Sign up today and get my latest thoughts on leadership and assessment…and honest, it’s only ONE e-mail a month: http://eepurl.com/cQwHA1
Want to watch the full conversation between me and Mandy? Check it out here: https://youtu.be/KxMCjI3QBcQ
Interested in being on the podcast, yourself? Check out: The Lasting Learning Podcast and sign up on the Calendly schedule.
Want to read more by Dave: https://schmittou.net