This is the sixth in my “Rules to Live By” series.  Like every other professional, in every other field, over the years I’ve picked up a lot of things that make my life easier, or better, both professionally and personally.  Most of these things can be summarized in a sentence or two, and I’ve decided to call them “Rules to Live By”.  As much as any other reason, they are here to remind myself of things that I’ve decided to believe in, even if I don’t feel like it one day.

RTLB #6:

Some things are hard to do.  Do them anyway.

There’s a reason why people have the impression that certain things are hard to do: they are.

Somehow I end up committing myself to things that fall into this category.  I feel like I spend a lot of my time doing things I don’t know how to do.  I take satisfaction in doing things that are perceived as hard, or even considered to be impossible.  Things like working a lot of hours to use one type of technology for a purpose that was supposed to be impossible.  Things like running a users group and organizing technology conferences.  Things like training to climb a mountain, and then making it to the top.  Things like sleeping less than 35 hours per week while writing a book.

Yes, I take satisfaction in doing these things that are perceived as hard.  It’s not because I’m special.  In fact, it’s precisely the opposite.  If I do these things, even if I’m not as good at it as other people are, then so can anyone else.  Yes, there is a sense of accomplishment that comes with doing something I didn’t think I could do or something you didn’t think I could do.  Even more, though, I have a list of things that I can use as examples and as encouragement to others to do something they didn’t think was possible for them.  When my kids are scared to do something because they don’t want to fall or fail, I have history to encourage them to go for it.

Getting hit by a fast ball hurts, but only for a while.  Standing in the box and hitting a game-winning hit feels awesome, for a long time.

Sometimes technology experts that say something is impossible are wrong.  So if you believe in your idea, try it anyway.

Stepping outside your comfort zone to do a job completely unrelated to what you normally do is overwhelming and confusing.  But if you’re passionate about it, try it anyway.

Losing weight and training like crazy for 3 months in order to pull your still-overweight self up a steep granite slope with your arms, only to realize that the trip back down could literally kill you is pretty scary.  But if it’s on your bucket list, train for it and do it anyway.

Whenever you feel like you aren’t qualified to do something that you believe in and that you’re passionate about, tell the imposter to take a backseat and do it anyway.  You’ve done other hard things before and you will do more hard things in the future.  You may suck, or worse, you may be mediocre.  You may fail.  You may get hurt, emotionally, mentally or physically.  You may realize that your time could have been better spent elsewhere.  Or you may not only reach, but surpass, your highest expectation.

Some things are hard to do.  Do them anyway.  Not only for yourself, but to encourage someone else.