I can’t be sure my observation is valid, but I noticed a change occurring during the 1990s.  This change was focused on the word ‘easy’.

All of a sudden activities like gardening or house painting became easy: dead easy. Of course repayments for goods we buy have always been easy: those 12 easy repayments were never a problem, were they?.  The marketers want to attract us with the idea of doing easy things.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with doing easy things, but they do pose a risk.  Think for a moment about what makes things easy.  They may be easy because they don’t take much effort on our part. That can be a good thing. Or they may be easy because they lay well within our current capabilities.  There’s nothing with that either, but you’re never going to grow and learn if everything you do is easy.

The problem with over-emphasising easy is that it assumes hard is bad.  I have long been a believer that people should do difficult things. I don’t mean difficult because they are inefficient or unnecessarily complicated, but difficult because they are challenging.  Challenging activities lay beyond your current comfort zone; beyond the skills and knowledge you possess right now.  You have to stretch, to learn, and grow to get good at them.

Doing difficult things is a catalyst for personal growth. What you gain is more knowledge and more skills; what you risk is failure. That’s the deal. But understand that failure is not a dirty word. Why should failure be unexpected if you are trying to do things that lie beyond your current level of skills and knowledge? If you’re afraid of failure, stick with the easy things and don’t grow.

You can learn much from failure. It often teaches you what you need to know in order to succeed.  It doesn’t mean you’re a failure: it just means you weren’t successful in doing something you haven’t mastered yet. There’s nothing surprising or unusual about that.

I don’t want to labour the point but I do want to encourage people to strive for difficult things.  Accept challenges and reach beyond your comfort zone. You might fail a few times, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you understand the change process you won’t be surprised at failure. But what may surprise you is your potential.

Dr Steve Barlow