Do the hard thing

A close friend of mine sadly lost his brother, Michael, a few weeks ago. He told me about a handwritten note that Michael kept on his fridge as daily inspiration. It said, ‘Do the hard thing’.

This resonated with me to my core and is something I’ve always believed in. Also known as the thing that scares you, or excites you, it is usually the effort most people would prefer not to make. The ‘hard thing’ to me is being the person in the arena. The same one in Teddy Roosevelt’s famous ‘Man In the Arena’ speech (excerpt below):

“…Who does actually strive to do the deeds;
Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
Who spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of great achievement,
And who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

– Teddy Roosevelt

Some of my most impactful campaigns would lose that adjective if not for the uncomfortable bits – like making the choice to fight for an unpopular idea that you know has superpower, or even letting a loved idea go, because it’s not right. It’s getting off your derrière and making a trip to meet with the people, yes, in real life, in search for the human truth.

‘Hard’ is the project that you know will need more time and more you, but that will also give so much more back. I’m not suggesting harming yourself of course. Sometimes the hard thing is knowing when to sit back and recuperate.

Hard is different for everybody, but it takes guts either way. It’s easy not to do the hard thing. Like going with the flow and not minding in which ocean or sewer it ends. It’s not bothering with a prickly task. Let’s not talk about the sacrilegious act of googling your way to a strategy. The easy road isn’t all fun, it is of course crowded with easy riders who don’t mind about real impact either.

I can guarantee, though, that if you go the extra ten, you’ll create impact in the real world. I’m sure anybody who’s been in the arena will agree.

Written by Lucielle Vardy, Executive Planning Director – Dig Agency