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Have You Ever Done Anything Really Hard?


A coaching client of mine asked me recently, “Have you ever done anything really hard?”

Without hesitation I responded, “Of course! Everything I’ve ever done was really hard the first time.”

Talking to women used to be really hard. Due to my sheltered background, extreme shyness and social anxiety there was a time when even talking to a woman would reduce me to a scared little boy. Then I put in the work and now one of the strongest pieces of my coaching practice is helping men become more attractive and confident to women.

Lifting weights used to be really hard. I remember the first time my dad took me to the gym. I remember the shame and embarrassment of only being able to bench the bar while other men around me were lifting 200, sometimes 300 pounds. Then I put in the work and benched 350 pounds and deadlifted 600 pounds in my first powerlifting competition.

Speaking in public used to be really hard. English was my second language and I had a serious stuttering problem in elementary school. Then I put in the work and have spoken all over the United States and even taught public speaking to undergraduate business students when I was getting my MBA.

Coaching clients used to be really hard. I took a coaching workshop when I was still in my corporate job and reached out to family and friends to coach. I stumbled through my first ten clients, really giving more advice than coaching. Then I put in the work and a couple hundred hours later, my coaching is laser sharp.

Literally everything I can do now was once seemingly impossible. Even hitting publish on my first blog post took months of deliberating on whether or not I should even start it.

Here’s a secret though, now nothing ever feels really hard anymore.

I’ve stringed together enough peak experiences and successes that anytime I’m jumping into anything unknown I lean upon my past experiences where I showed confidence or courage. For example, anytime I’m doing anything scary I’ll think back to when I jumped out of an airplane or went bungee jumping.

Here’s a simple four step process that you can use the next time you need a little support or are feeling a little afraid:

1. Ask yourself, what do I need in this situation? It should be a simple one word adjective like “confidence,” “courage,” or “peace.”

2. Vividly recall a time or memory when you had that feeling, or were in that state in a powerful way. For example, think back to a time when you showed great courage.

3. Close your eyes and step back into the film strip of your life and feel into the memory. Really live it!

4. Step back into the present with the courage you need.

It might sound cheesy or weird, but trust me, this stuff works.


Yes, everything is hard if you’ve never done it before.

And it will be hard the first time you do it. And the second and third for that matter. But you’ll get better every time.

And one day you’ll wake up and what was once impossible will be one of your greatest strengths.

But you have to put in the work.

Just put in the work.

Seriously, put in the work.

For the love of God, stop reading blogs and Facebook and put in the work.


[Photo Credit: Maria Ly]

  • Marcus

    I think one of the hardest things I’ve done was learn to be more multimedia-savvy. I was confident in my writing, and I desperately wanted to believe that good writing was enough.

    But eventually, I realized that to get ahead, I had to branch out into learning web design, video production, etc. In the end, it’s all about creating content. I’m passionate about that anyway–regardless of the format–so that helped me get over the technical setbacks. Now I’m happy that I can create content in different mediums.

    On a similar level, I resisted learning about sales and marketing for way too long. I think this is common among creative types and engineers. I hoped that good content was enough. Now I’ve gotten really interested in direct-response marketing and copywriting. What helped me get into it was realizing that it’s all psychology. When you understand why people really buy stuff, you get to know human nature at a very deep level.

    I think admitting failure, that you’re wrong about something and need to change, is one of the hardest things to do. “Not quitting” a futile project can sometimes to be an excuse for laziness and resistance to change. For myself, wanting to be strictly a writer and not learning about technology and marketing really delayed my progress.

    You’re right about putting in the work. It helps a lot if you remove distractions and re-organize your environment so that it’s easier to work rather than goof off. Some small steps I took were to remove the shortcuts to Gmail and Facebook on my web browser. Instead, I put the shortcut for my website (Street Smart Traveler), so that I post on it every day. Ridiculously simple yet effective, I immediately became 10x more productive after doing that. Putting in “little barriers” to distractions and “little aids” to work made a world of difference in my output.

    The chapter on productivity, called “The 20-Second Rule,” in the book “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor has more on this subject. Best book I’ve read in a while.

    I think the other big thing is to have an exciting goal, a life that you want really badly. For example, my dream is to be a digital nomad. That’s gotten me over countless setbacks where I’ve wanted to quit.

    Whew, this got way longer than intended. Street Smart Traveler out 🙂