The hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I’m taking a course from @StellaOrange called Craft Your Message. She’s helping me articulate what I do and how I came to do it. One of the exercises is to answer the question, “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?”

I was stumped.

I have lived a fairly long time and nothing came to mind as being remarkably hard. It’s not that I haven’t had adversity– loved ones dying, job loss, money troubles. And I’ve done some challenging activities– performing in front of hundreds of people, traveling to remote areas, earning multiple degrees. But nothing stood out. Nothing seemed that hard.

The only thing I could think of as difficult, like oh-god-I-never-want-to-go-through-that-again, was an exercise in a personal growth training I did 30 years ago where we were supposed to do, say, or express something authentic from the center of our being. I had absolutely no idea how to do that. It was like that feeling in a dream when you’re suddenly in a play and you don’t know your lines or what the hell is going on.

For my first attempt I tried to copy what someone before me had done. That was rejected. Finally just about everyone else had gone and it was my turn again. I still had no idea what to do but I figured I’d start by doing a clearing and tell a person in the group something I had been holding back.

Boom. That did it. Suddenly I was welcomed over to the other side. That truth-telling was what they were looking for. That was all there was to it. I can still remember the “Huh?” feeling I had. “That’s all you wanted? That was nothing.”

The hard part for me wasn’t being authentic. It was understanding what that was.

This exercise is causing me to look at what I think is difficult and easy and what motivates me.

For example, I can not comprehend why someone would want to scale Everest. I read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and do not see the appeal of not being able to breathe, risking death, and putting myself through extreme discomfort.

I also have no desire to become famous, earn billions, or spend 10,000 hours mastering one thing. Achievement at that scale holds no attraction to me. I don’t want to run a marathon or a large corporation or a presidential campaign.

I do want to learn new things and try different experiences. I want variety and freedom. Then once I learn how to do something I want to move on.

That’s what draws me to Productivity. I like to find the easiest way to do something. I have a knack for seeing what’s most important and identifying the most effective way to do it.

I don’t want to do it the hard way and I’m good at avoiding struggle.

I do not believe in No Pain, No Gain. I don’t agree that something must hurt in order to be valuable.

I recognize that not everyone agrees with this approach, but if pain and hardship haven’t been getting you where you want to be, try it my way.

Easy does it.