Focusing Your Mind On The Difficult

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Competitively, that which is easy gets you very little. If it is easy, anyone can do it, so it is of low value. Tying your shoes in a special way will get you no recognition from anyone except maybe a kindergartener. Doing a couple of simple math problems to review for a placement test won’t help you much. The point of tests and the free market is to separate those that go a bit further.

Average Difficulty Actions Lead To Adequate Gains

Doing items at a medium level of difficulty will get you somewhat valuable gains. Running 3 miles to train for a half-marathon will keep you on pace, and will take a good amount of your energy. This will be worth it to you, but it won’t amaze anyone else. While average types of actions don’t necessarily hurt you in any way, sticking at the median level leaves you unable to build up real momentum. Awards, support, and recognition don’t tend to arrive for those who are sticking to doing the average. It isn’t that others don’t want to acknowledge your work, but that someone else’s work shines brighter than yours, moving yours into the invisible category. On the other hand, it is good to keep some of your regular habits in this category.

Keep Your Actions In The Difficult Category

Doing things in a new way, or in a substantially better way, is what remains in the difficult category. Breaking through the competition means you have to outdo them in your thoughts, efforts, or attempts. Standing out as remarkable requires at least one extra step beyond where others are going. If you are delivering a PowerPoint presentation just like 15 other people, and have colored slides like everyone else, it might have taken you a little more effort, but others will not heavily notice you until you add in another layer of difficulty, like organizing your slides so they unfold in reverse, or something similar that is innovative. Anyone could be this remarkable, but it takes a bit more thought, and some fearlessness, to not quit during the process out of concern for looking out-of-place.

You do get back what you put out, but in the realm of competition, you have to put out more value than, or out-learn, your competitors to stand out in recognition or place. To get into this small set of successful people, you must have your focus on your actions. Your focus is not well spent on doing more of the regular, which will keep you where you are, as opposed to where your desired destination is.

Example #1: Writing For A Newspaper

If you are writing a column for a newspaper, average content will look okay, and fit on the page next to the other articles, which will make it just fine to skip over it. If your material and presentation is enough to suit description as “up to par”, but is not any more absorbing than that, it will just be read on some passes based on its presence, but it won’t get any eyes directed to it. If you want your creation to get people directed toward it, you have to put yourself in their shoes and see that they are looking for the big hit. They would rather have you go crazy with a concept, and make your point in an outlandish way, than have you cower back in fear, and write it in a way where the main concept is so watered down that it become generic and unfocused.

Example #2: Academic Classes

If you look back at classes you have taken in the past, some of the ones you will remember the most are the ones that were the hardest at that time. While you may have struggled heavily during them, you now look back at those classes as the ones that really built you up as a person. These classes would not have been as valuable for you had the teachers and/or people who set the curriculum planned it out that way. Their focus on packing the difficult into the standard class structure left a solid impression in your mind, and you can do the same for others by keeping a focus on the difficult tasks which are at your grasp.

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Hiking up the trail2

The photo shown above is of my friend and I hiking up a mountain trail, taken at about three  hours of the way up the mountain. It was more difficult than a regular trail run, but was certainly worth it.

What are you currently doing that you would classify as difficult? How do you focus your mind and actions on doing the difficult? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Photo by jin.thai