When It Gets Tough

I gave my older boy, Tay, 10, the “face your fears” speech last night. He insisted we watch him walk the trash can down to the curb because it was too dark outside to travel the 25-foot trek alone. What ensued was some inevitable parenting foolishness that featured hiding behind the garage door, jumping out and scaring the poor kid, Tay screaming, sprinting to the bathroom, unfortunately, in tears, storming halfway upstairs, then reluctantly backpedaling down for a parental apology and aforementioned speech. Though very funny, it wasn’t one of our finest moments. But, here’s what’s real…

Until Tay overcomes his fear of walking 5 seconds by himself in the dark, we’ll probably continue to clown him to some degree.

I say this with a loving heart. As parents, we know walking to the street and back at 6:30 PM in December is more inconvenient than insurmountable. Tay, on the other hand, only sees impossible.

Ironically, Jordan, 2, stopped dead in his tracks last night when the ball he threw rolled into the darkest part of the hallway. He refused to get it unless one of us went with him. Without hesitation, I hopped up, held his hand, and let him lead me into the unlit space to get the ball.

My decision to not scare the life out of him had nothing to do with loving one boy more than the other but everything to do with expectations.

There are challenges in both of their little lives that make getting through parts of the day tough. I’m happy to hold Tay’s hand and help him when he and his teachers aren’t on the same page or one of his friends punches him in the face because a dancing game just got real. I’m not so inclined to be of assistance when he adjusted to the dark years ago but develops sudden hesitations when it’s time to do his chores.

When it gets tough… are you unwilling to try, or are you on the edge of unchartered territory?

There aren’t many long-term perks to shortcutting and withholding effort. There are, however, benefits to keep going when it gets tough:

You’re not alone. If you are willing to do the work when it gets tough, people close to you will rally for your success.

You’ll become more skilled. Whatever you just did that a moment prior you had never done is now dead to you. Add it to your “road to mastery” list.

You may become someone’s inspiration. People notice others who don’t give up when it’s hard, go the extra mile, and spend a little more time.

We’re all at different places and face times that get tough. It feels overwhelming, humbling, maybe hopeless. If you’re on the edge of an opportunity and you’re willing to work toward it, the boldness to make progress is either inside you or all around you. Double-check for it before you give up. That next step could make all the difference.

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The What About You (WAY):

When does it get tough for you?

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