Mar 3, 2010

# 86 Teenagers....Do Hard Things

I have a daughter who is getting close to entering those "between" years, so I've been reading a bit to learn how to help and how to encourage her to be a young adult. One of the books recommended to me was Do Hard Things. It is written by two twin brothers who were homeschooled Brett and Alex Harris.

There are a few things I didn't love about the book...but lets be honest, there are always a few things not to love about every book (except the scriptures :)) This book definately has the "teen culture" part. And even though it was written for teens I did find myself motivated to be better by the principles that they talked about.

The first section of the book is all about my opinion, the "why" of the book....or the inspiring teens to "why" read this and ultimately the "why" to do something hard.

Quotes from the book:
if you dream ready to face the dream.
(hard things are) opportunities to learn, laugh, and sometimes start over

The thing I learned from this part of the book as a mother is to have high expectations for my children. (like I didn't already :) )The brothers propose that when you have high expectations for people they can meet those high expectations. (calmness, studies, standards etc.) low expectations = low performance. Expectations are a self fulfilling prophecy. I think this also means that I must be intune to the spirit so I can know what high expectations He would have me expect of my children.

My favorite quote "all effort produces muscels, even failed effort." No effort is wasted. Sometimes in my striving I feel like something that isn't working is wasted. I was listening to a book today which said the same thing...if you don't win the race will you be sad you tried? The main character wants to answer yes because it is so important to her to win but then the antagonist points out...what about this muscle you've developed, what about this habit you've gained, what about this skill you've learned; it helps her realize that it is about more than just is also about the journey. I need to work harder at realizing when things are not "perfect" something has grown or changed and that growth and change and progress are not wasted effort.

My favorite section of the book is part 2...The Five Kinds of Hard

1. Hard thing getting outside your comfort zone
If we take a step we grow in strength and skill
Fear keeps us inside our comfort can't live by fear and faith
Heavenly Father works through our weakness to accomplish big things
Getting out of our zone helps us learn to have faith in Him, to lean on Him
Waiting for things to be better...there will always be something to be afraid of
You cant get to success without risking failure
What could your life look like if you trust in God and overcome your fears?

This was inspiring to me I have lots of things outside my comfort zone that I don't really want to do :) and yet I feel inspired to do them. At Virtue Girls today I taught the girls about comfort zones and we compared it to a circle...things in our circle are things we are good at or enjoy doing, or want to do (our comfort zones). The things outside our circle are the things that are scary or hard or we don't want to do (outside our comfort zones). It is fun to watch them talk about the things that are hard for them to do and then to see them want to work on them....oh the faith of a child.

2. Raising the bar
dont just do your best
mr better than just "good"
do what is hard for YOU
be known for what you do...not what you don't
persue excellence not excuses

I enjoyed this section because I think it is very true for many youth. They are praised for "not being bad" or for doing small things like making their beds or getting an A and yet not for doing things that are really hard for them. Now, some teens may really struggle with being bad or with getting an A but generally being above average is looked on as exceptional...even though the youth of today are so much better than being above average...they have the potential to be excellent. This chapter suggests not just settling for what you can do, just getting by, or meeting the low expectations others have for you...but to push yourself to do better then your best, to do that thing that is hard for YOU...wether it be an A, making your bed, speaking in front of others, or reaching for the BIG goal you think there is no way you could ever do.

3.Power of collaboration
strength in numbers
start with questions....what does God say, my parents say, lead or help?
strengths weakness', care about issue
walk with the wise
use technology
treasure constructive criticism
credit is free if you give it away
other people are sinners too...runs on regular
expect a nightmare or two
dont give up
success happens in more ways than one...success looks different

This chapter is all about working with others...something I am not good at. Sometimes I think that if I can't do it by myself then it is not worth doing...but that is not true. I cannot even live the gospel all by myself because we need each other. Part of the plan of our Heavenly Father is the lifting and the helping of each other and I need to be lifted and helped as much as I need to lift and help. I also enjoyed their wisdom...I think it was their dad that said "runs on regular" meaning that work is done by regular people...even God's work. The Lord does not only use exceptional, brilliant, talented people to do his work he also uses humble, slow and sick people to do his work. I also like the last quote...success happens in more ways than one. That reminds me of the thoughts above about is not always about the winning or the doing, sometimes it is about the journeys and the small successes...sometimes it is about the seeds and not about the blossom.

4. Small hard things
small hard things are:
things that usually dont go away after you do them
things that dont seem very important
things that dont seem to make a difference
things that dont seem very glamorous
things you do when no one is watching

things that keep us from doing small hard things

So if you haven't guessed that is making your bed, doing the dishes, and the laundry for all you mom's out there....or mabey it's reading one more book about that subject, or attending another city council meeting, or having a shower. Sometimes, especially when you read a book like this that gets you fired up to do BIG hard things, it is hard to remember that you still have to do all the little daily things that "sharpen the saw" as Covey says.

They share a story about the vikings here which I thought was inspirational. The vikings came accross the sea and terrorized all the poor sea coast cities in Europe. The Europeans had boats but the Vikings ships were small and they would drag them up to shore, loot and plunder and get back to their boats and away before anything could be done...sly, fast and deadly. One of the reasons they were so effective at this was because Europeans hired others or made slaves or criminals row their boats...but not the Vikings, they rowed their own boats..they did the hard work of rowing and they couldn't be beat for upper body strength...doing the small little unimportant thing..rowing the boat..made them the great warriors that they were....not that we should be vikings...their character needed a little more work :)

5. taking a stand
do what's right even when it hurts
the hard decision can also be easier...we'll always be glad we did

how and when to stand
start with the bible
examine yourself...fix yourself first
listen to your conscience
seek godly counsel
be humble, loving, and bold
be for something...not against everything

The last section was their weakest in my opinion and yet needed to be one of their strengths. Standing up for something, or doing something even when it hurts, or making the hard decision because you have to make it is difficult, at best. And yet it is such an integral part of choosing God's plan. There must be a time when you choose, when you choose that you will be on the Lord's side. I believe they are saying this in the book...I just didn't feel they did it as well as the other parts...but hey at 17 how many of us have written a book that stares directly in the face of popular culture :0...mabey they've already got this one down. I definately dont :) I liked their suggestions to seek for the Lord when making a stand to make sure you are firmly on His side, and then to fix the problem in yourself first...not in many times is it easier to see someone elses problem and try to fix that. Seeking godly counsel means to talk with others who are wiser than you. My favorite one though was the last for something, not against everything. I tend to feel like I am always fighting against everything. I liked their advice about pick something you are for and then fight for that...don't always play the antagonist.

Section 3 is all about their vision, another part that wasn't my favorite, but might be helpful for a teen who needs a bigger reality I did enjoy their interpretation of the parable of the salt of the earth and the light under a bushel. The salt is a preserver, the light is given. They believe that the salt is to remind us about the things that we need to save...from sin, from the world, our families, our communities, our world. The light is to remind us of the things we need to give to others...the gospel, truth, knowledge, our influence. I liked this anaolgy, the beautiful thing about the Saviors words they have so much meaning and depth.

The twins advocate 3 things that to do hard things you need :character: passionate about growing in christlikeness ,competence: care deeply about skill strategy andcreativity, and last
collaboration finding and working with others . Do not just make a difference, be a difference. Their suggestions are:get rid of old things, help those who stand alone,rethinking companionship, get honest ,get rid of negative actions,recognized people who can help you, plan 1 or 2 key actions that keep you from chickening out, stay close to God, and expect and be excited about success.

The overall theme for myself was courage...courage to do the hard things that I need to do and am scared to do, but then my sweet...almost teen daughter pointed out something wonderful to me today. She was working on a lesson about courage, ironically, and she said, "mom, every time I think about courage I just can't think about courage because what I always think about is Faith." How profound from a 10 year old. So my overall theme for myself is now to do the hard things that God needs me to do and that I am scared to do. Really it is His work and His glory and I am glad that the book helped me to remember it.

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