Three Keys to Doing Hard Things
Welcome to the Leadership Vision Podcast, where we share our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a Strengths-Based approach to people, teams, and culture.
Leaders are taught that being tougher is the key to overcoming any challenge, but what does it actually mean to be tough? For many that may mean hiding your fears or insecurities no matter what you’re up against. But is it really true that the key to toughness, and therefore success, for leaders comes down to who grips the tightest? At Leadership Vision, we don’t think so, and neither does author, performance expert, executive, coach, and runner, Steve Magness.
In this episode, we discuss Steve Magness’s latest book, Do Hard Things: Why We Get Resilience Wrong and the Surprising Science of Real Toughness. We’ll share a brief overview of the book, give a couple of our biggest takeaways, and then share a few tips that we think will help you to better understand toughness and how you can apply that to your leadership and ultimately to doing hard things.
Do Hard Things
In Do Hard Things, Magness teaches us how we can work with our body. He explores how experiencing discomfort, leaning in, paying attention, and creating space to take thoughtful action can be the true indications of cultivating inner strength. In the book, Magness offers four core pillars to cultivate such resilience.
He flips the script on what it means to be resilient, drawing from mindfulness, military case studies, sports psychology, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. Magness provides a roadmap for navigating life’s challenging challenges and achieving high performance that makes us happier, more successful, and ultimately better people. He also uses a lot of sports metaphors and analogies, but it’s not a sports book; Magness applies his research to everything from business, to leadership, to parenting.
Our Three Biggest Takeaways from Do Hard Things
Here are our three biggest takeaways from Do Hard Things by Steve Magness:
1. Self Acceptance
Brian’s biggest takeaway from the book is how Magness focuses on this idea of self-acceptance. “As an athlete, I tend to struggle with my self-acceptance as because I don’t believe it’s directly applicable to everyone else. I’ve often shaded or clouded my worldview as an athlete, believing that I can better relate to people if I don’t use that lens.” What Steve does is the exact opposite, which is part of the theme of the book. He flips the script and says, “this is the lens through which I see the world. That’s who I am.” Embrace that and see through it.
2. Keep Your Cool
Another takeaway from the book is to view anything that makes you uncomfortable as an opportunity to train your mental muscle. It’s an opportunity to sit with that feeling and navigate it. The book isn’t really what you think it’s about or what I thought it was about. It’s more about the hard things. And one of the hardest things in life is keeping your cool when everything else around you is spinning into chaos. This can be applied to anything; athletics, parenting, leadership. How do you keep your mind clear and focused when everything else is spinning out around you?
Where it clicked was in the last third of the book about pillar four. Magness wrote about the connection between feelings and data. Feelings are signals that need to be understood. They are pieces of information and can often determine how our emotions respond to a situation.
When feelings start to arise, create space for the feeling to exist. In creating space, you’re with the feeling but you’re also separating from the feeling so that you can experience what’s happening in the moment and move through the challenge.
At Leadership Vision, we’ve used the term “zoom in, zoom out” for over 10 years. It caught our attention because not only is Magness saying there is a time to focus on details to get something done or to navigate, but there’s also a need to zoom out again to create space between us and the task, emotion, feeling or relationship. Zoom out and see the entire landscape. Remember, sometimes you need to be exactly where you are. There’s no need to zoom in or zoom out. Just see, just see what’s around you. Just see what’s in your perspective.
Types of Zooming
- Visual – Portrait mode versus panorama mode. What are you seeing? There are so many data points about what we see.
- Cognitive – The thought process, common answers, areas of interest, and data you pick up cognitively.
- Physical – The physicality of your body in any moment or activity. For example, how do you hold your body during a conversation? Do you lean in or do you lean back?
- Temporal – This is about getting into a space of thinking about the future and looking forward or backward.
- Linguistic – The importance of language and the words that you use. The specificity of word choice, as well as the broad, more open-ended word choices and how you create your sentences.
- Environmental – What’s your context? Who is around you? Physical space, lighting, heat, warmth, etc.
- Emotional – Zooming in and out on feelings and core emotions. What is inspiring a feeling, what’s happening around you, and how will you respond emotionally?
Imagining how future you would think about your current situation often reminds us that whatever we are going through is temporary. Everything is temporary, the very good stuff and the very bad stuff. That’s why it’s so important to be in the present.
Three Keys to Doing Hard Things
Here are three keys to doing hard things in your life:
1. Lean Into Discomfort
Lean into uncomfortable situations in life and spend time sitting with uncomfortable feelings. It can be helpful to discern that a feeling, emotion or experience is not who you are. You may be sitting with something or I’m living with a feeling in this present moment, but that’s not who you are. It is a lived experience.
2. Create Space
Create space and a healthy separation to be alive and free with your feelings, emotions, or experiences. Part of the invitation from this book is that there is a different way of how we can think about our reality. We don’t have to settle for old ways of thinking to navigate new ways of being.
3. Embrace Your Identity
Self-awareness and self-acceptance is a lifelong journey. We all have examples of how we have sought to better understand who we are and struggled to accept who we actually are. Go with the flow of what you know.
Doing Hard Things in Your Life
Steve Magness provides a counterintuitive approach to what it means to be tough and what it means to do hard things. He agitates our thinking in soft and direct ways to try to wrestle with how we can actually live with our feelings and emotions, and understand ourselves and others better so that we can live a more fulfilling life.
We would love to hear from you! Connect with me at email@example.com.
About The Leadership Vision Podcast
The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a strengths-based approach to people, teams, and culture. We believe that knowing your Strengths is only the beginning. Our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents. Subscribe to the Leadership Vision Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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