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“You Can Do This Hard Thing”: The Odd Road to Tougher

A firefighter told me yesterday that when he started working with me on his resilience he was excited because he thought that he was going to come out of it tougher, stronger, better able to just push through the hard things.

“And I was wrong about that,” he said. “I’m softer now than I think I’ve been since I was a kid. And I’m happier, and I do my job better, and I think I’ll be able to do it for longer. But you didn’t make me tougher.” 

Except that I did. This is the paradox of resilience and vulnerability. That from the inside it feels like grace. And from the outside it looks like quiet warriors. We look at those quiet warriors and wonder if they were born like that.

Being more resilient turns out to be both easier and harder than we thought because it involves vulnerability. We fear fragility. Putting on armor is so very useful, and so very tempting. It’s such an obvious solution — practical and fairly straightforward. We can do it without much guidance. 

And yet. 

We open to the possibility that on the other side of our own perceived discomfort and vulnerability is a wild and radiant landscape that is the preferred habitat of untamed creatures like peace, like joy. We are not control out here. And at some point we want these more than we want to stay safe, stay comfortable. 

So we move ourselves to apologize and then can bask in being at peace. We bring ourselves to forgive and discover rest. We risk embarrassment and discover an expanded and buoyant self and glow in the delight of it. We declare ourselves — mind and body — adventurers in the weirdest and wildest landscape there is, the human life, by saying that we don’t actually know what will happen in the next moment.  We find ourselves with more space.  And it starts with those first steps out of civilization. Deciding who we are going to be from here on the edge. 

Brene Brown: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

So you have two questions that make that first step simple.

1.  Who do I want to be in myself?  Three words.

2.  Who do I want to be with other people?  Three words.

Write them down. Refine them. Now own them today, this week, strategically and consciously.  Who you are, in life, moving through the world. Every day, these six.  This is who you are from here, into the wild.

Where have you felt this?  Tell me here below…

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And add this singer to your playlist… “You Can Do This Hard Thing.”


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