The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Do you dread the hard things? No one really looks forward to difficult things, but do you dread them? The hard things in life are where we learn our greatest lessons, and we need them in order to learn and grow as people. Without them we stay stagnant and complacent with the same old, same old.

Of course, with everything it’s all about balance and figuring out when you need to lean into the hard things and when you need to step away and take a deep breath. In today’s episode we talk about some lessons learned the hard way, and how to get the most out of those situations so that you can move forward with progress instead of continuing to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

What you’ll hear in this podcast:

  • How uncomfortable conversations can help you
  • Ways to use overwhelm and procrastination to your advantage
  • Why people use mockery and ridicule to motivate others
  • How to handle people who are selfish or self-serving
  • Why people take what you are willing to give
  • How to understand the purpose of a life lesson
  • What to do to discover your most important lessons
  • How to not embrace all the hard stuff, all the time
  • Ways to build resilience to help navigate the hard stuff

To listen to the full audio, CLICK HERE.


Let me ask you a question? Do you dread the hard things? Things like uncomfortable conversations or confronting other people about something or maybe even just saying “No” to someone who really needs you. Hard things are hard because they’re filled with a lot of emotions, expectations and assumptions. Sometimes they’re all happening at once now. No one really looks forward to those difficult things, but do you dread them? This past year has been full of hard things, new challenges and trial and errors. For me, I launched a podcast. I switched our website platform and as a solo operator, this was full of a rabbit hole of distractions that left me exhausted and directionally confused, from YouTube video tutorials to rogue html code. I spent a lot of time on non-revenue generating activities, as my friend, Nikki Rausch, would say.

Whenever I feel this way, overwhelmed and wondering if I’m on the right path or just productively procrastinating, my Grandma Tiny comes to mind. I can see her face so clearly. We’re sitting in her retirement condo in the university district and there is a blooming cherry tree vibrantly showing off food through the window behind her and she’s looking up at me from some knitted project in her hand and she said, “Lord, I am tired of learning lessons, but if I’m all out of lessons, I’m all out of life.” I don’t really remember exactly what we were talking about that day or what was happening in that moment. We would talk about everything from the evolution of farming practices to the changing definition of a common word throughout her lifetime, but I remember those words and that feeling, that feeling of, are you kidding me? I’m still going to have to be learning lessons when I’m 96? Is this real-life right now? But when a 96-year-old five-foot fiery Irish woman starts laying down some knowledge, you perk up and listen. Later that day after crying in my beer that life is going to be always having some new lessons for me waiting in the wings.

I started to think back on my vast 20 odd years of life and think about the challenges that had led to some pretty powerful lessons for me. Experiences that seemed so very difficult at the time and that are almost obvious to me now. There was the boss who would use mockery and ridicule in an attempt to motivate me. This woman, she really encompassed my entire life at the time. She was about six feet tall and she used to walk in every morning and say, “Hi little bit, little bit.” What am I? A donkey. It would drive me insane, but it taught me that some people have so much internal fear and self-judgment that they just try to get rid of it by spreading it around. You know, it’s not about me.

There was this lead I was given by a source for a big story. It was a story on auctions that I was doing at the time for a PBS station in Seattle and it turned out to be a self-serving lie. I was humiliated. I was embarrassed in front of my peers and also, I was embarrassed that I had not followed all the protocols and it taught me that people are often selfish and self-serving, especially when shame is involved. You can trust but verify even your verification and their internal practices for a reason.

There was the friend who never had cash on her and this lesson was a twofer. The first was that people will take from you whatever you are willing to give and second that you never really know what’s going on in someone’s life. Things aren’t always what they seem. Looking back, these lessons may seem obvious. You may have learned some of the same lessons or a variation of the lesson.

I forgot who said it first. I think it was Nelson Mandela. What was once impossible becomes easy. It’s true, but there’s a lot of self-work that happens along the way. Just because it’s simple doesn’t make it easy. I want to say that again just because it’s simple, doesn’t make it easy. What often makes it feel so hard, and why we avoid hard things, is all the feelings that we have to feel during these life lessons. Each and every one of those feelings has a purpose and a gift, and if you want to know what those lessons and gifts are, just go to and scroll to the bottom of the page. You can sign up for the free Secret Gifts in Every Emotion series, they’re full of short videos and if you’re more of a reader, it also has the transcript there, but you can learn what lesson and what gift you need to from each emotion. Just go to and scroll to the bottom of the page.

So what are some of your favorite challenges? All right, maybe not favorite, but most important. You know, another thing that my Grandma Tiny used to say is, “You will keep pulling people like that close to you until you learn the lesson. You need to learn from him.” Now she was referring to a long ago, forgotten guy, I was dating and she was right. If you don’t learn the lesson you need to know from the hard that you may be avoiding, you will continue to find yourself in the same situation, so don’t worry if you aren’t sure what lessons have been the most important for you. You’re going to have plenty of opportunities to learn them in the future. Embrace the hard stuff. I know it isn’t easy or intuitive. You might even have an inside voice screaming at you, but trust me, when you learn the lessons from the hard stuff that you were meant to learn, you will grow exponentially as a person and don’t embrace all the hard stuff all the time.

I know, I know it sounds counterintuitive, but trust me on this one, we can’t be self-awareness robots. Life will continue to throw the hard stuff at us. Sometimes you need to hunker in and self soothe in a healthy way so that you can face the challenge another day to help you be prepared for those times. I want to leave you with these two things that you can do. First, ask yourself, what makes this so hard? Is it the doing the feeling around it, the fear of judgment or hurting someone’s feelings? What is the hard part of this hard thing? And second, ask yourself, when was the last time I had to deal with something that was similar to this and in that situation, what went right and what went wrong? What do you want to do differently this time? If you’re struggling with this right now, reach out to me and let’s hop on a call and see how I can be of service to you.

Just go to and click on the breakthrough assessment button and let’s chat. Grandma Tiny is gone now, but she taught me so many lessons that I’m grateful for. Her presence was larger than life, all wrapped up in a wee little wrapper, but she’s not really gone because she still makes such a huge impact on me and my kids. Things are hard and they should be. If everything was easy, you would lose the impact of that lasting impression that’s left in you from going through and successfully dealing with something hard. This is one of the ways that we build resilience and resilience is so important. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly, especially from the hard things. The hard thing about hard things is that they’re necessary. It’s important, and it’s inevitable. Don’t forget to celebrate the hard things that are in the past for you in reflection and acknowledging the hard stuff. You are building your resilience, resilience to more easily navigate the hard stuff that is yet to come. Next week we’re going to take a look at boundaries and until next time, be honest, be kind, be firm but fair, and be in touch. You know, I’d love to hear.

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