Why It's Hard Before It's Easy

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli
Why It's Hard Before It's Easy

I’ve written about this very thing before (but as we’ve decided, I only ever write about five things anyway), and using my son as an example that time too, but I’m struck once again at how HARD things are before they become EASY.

My son and daughter have recently finished their first round of swimming lessons for the summer. For my son, who only recently turned three, this is his first experience with swimming lessons, and they came at a time when he was only just beginning to enjoy just simply playing in the water.

During his first lesson, he cried hysterically from the first moment to the last, without a break. During the second lesson, he cried hysterically from the first moment to the last, with one or two pauses. During the third lesson, he cried intermittently, with large breaks in between. During the fourth lesson, he whimpered from time to time but didn’t cry at all. By the last lesson he happily reached for his instructor, did everything she asked without so much as a whine, and when all was said and done, came running over to me beaming from ear to ear.

Everything, oh everything, is hard before it is easy. And what’s MOST hard is remembering  that.

After the first lesson I was ready to call it in, declare him too young for swimming lessons, and rescue him from his sorrow. But the thing is, even though he cried the whole time, he still did everything his instructor asked of him. He cried while making rocket ship arms; he cried while kicking his legs; he cried while floating on his back.  He cried, but he did it all anyway. Maybe on some instinctual level he knew better than most of us: that if he just hung in there it would get better eventually. Or maybe he didn’t realize he had the option to just NOT do it. Either way, he inspired me with his dogged stick-with-it-ness.

His process through these swimming lessons reminded me that when I start something new it’s probably going to suck eggs. But just because it sucks eggs when I start doesn’t mean I should give up on it. It doesn’t mean I was wrong to think it was a good idea. Just because I’m terrible at something or I hate something or I’m scared about something when I start, doesn’t mean that’s the way it’s always going to be. In fact, all it means is I am beginning something new. All it actually means is that an opportunity for a new adventure is upon me. I’d actually be crazy to stop. (Unless it was as horrible the tenth time as it was the first time with no signs of improvement or joy. In that case I might want to re-evaluate the whole thing as to avoid becoming the definition of insanity.)

So if you’re about to start something and you’re worried you’re going to be bad at it or it’s going to make you feel uncomfortable or look awkward, or you’re afraid it’s going to be confusing… well, you’re probably right. Grit your teeth and get through day one. Show up for day two. Show up for day three. Chances are you will notice a difference in yourself, probably barely perceptible at first. Chances are, by the “end,” whatever that means for you, you’ll be beaming ear to ear.

How can you remember that everything is hard before it’s easy today?  


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.