Workin Hard or Hardly Workin? In Squash, in Life.

“I’m most comfortable in survival mode.” Gary Waite.

What makes someone a hard worker? I’m not going to say I’ve cracked this question by any means but my wife and I may have made some progress. On our way home from a tournament in Sarnia we began the discussion of what makes a hard worker. Funnily enough we started the discussion whilst in a road trip competition which prohibited us from using the letter “s”. This game makes philosophical discussions far more interesting although much more difficult to keep up. We ended up with the conclusion that someone is a hard worker when they are consistently working outside of their comfort zone. This is how we got there.

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What exactly is hard work? After thinking through all the hard workers we know, we found a major common factor. Hard workers are rarely comfortable. At least not when they are working. They always seem to be in a struggle with some goal or task. It is almost as if they have become reliant on being uncomfortable and they enjoy it. Indeed it takes a long time and a lot of pushing to get to this state. Usually, a parent or coach is behind each hard worker or some need – the need to survive, to provide for one’s family, etc. Something that pushes and pushes and pushes until one day the ball starts to roll. It’s gained enough momentum to perpetuate itself forward, through the pain and on and on. Once someone becomes a hard worker it seems it’s just as hard to stop them as it was to start them.

Learning a new skill is a difficult task. The struggle of nurturing new movements or ways of thinking is hard work. It is a struggle, it is out of our comfort zone. What is amazing is the rate of growth when we are learning a new skill. How quickly do these once foreign skills become second nature? Usually within weeks. It reminds me of teaching brand new players in squash, ones who’ve never touched a racquet. Within a few weeks, I can get them ready and able to play a match. They can serve, return, rally, they understand all the rules, etc. But, after the initial burst of excitement from learning the new sport goes away they reach a point of comfort. Most often people are not willing to struggle, and they do not want to improve any further than the fundamentals, and so they don’t.

Is it possible that the trick to improving quickly, to maintaining that momentum which everyone has at the beginning of learning a new skill, is continuously stepping out of our comfort zones? It just may be that the place of struggle is where we need to spend the most time, not just doing the things which we are comfortable with. Is it possible that at the end of each day we can rest at ease if we know that we struggled? That we put up a good fight today? That we tried to expand ourselves? I think we can.

We can work hard at anything. We can struggle and strive in any area of life – our marriages, our faith, our children, our work, our musical talents, our writing, our school. We can always step out of our comfort zones, we can always do that little bit extra which we know we should do.

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