“Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” Review & Reflect (Part 1)

One of the ways that I’ve been looking to get more involved in my church is with the youth. I believe in young leadership and I plan to contribute to the cultivation of teen-trailblazers. One book that was recommended to me is “Do Hard Things” by Alex and Brett Harris. It should be an interesting read and should help in my endeavors to empower the next generation.

Chapter 2: The Birth of a Big Idea– Rumblings of a rebelution

…never trying is a lot worse than losing. And we experienced firsthand that all effort- even failed effort- produces muscle. P. 22

We’re not rebelling against institutions or even against people. Our uprising is against a cultural mind-set that twists the purpose of potential of the teen years and threatens to cripple our generation. Our uprising won’t be marked by mass riots and violence, but by millions of individual teens quietly choosing to turn the low expectations of our culture upside down. P. 25

Chapter 3: the Myth of Adolescence– Exposing low expectations that are robbing our generation

Over the past few years, instead of wishing to own an elephant, we began to suspect that we might be elephants. Could it be that we and most young people we know are like that elephant – strong, smart, holding incredible potential, but somehow held back by nothing more than a piece of twine? Left almost powerless by a lie? P. 29

The problem we have is with the modern understanding of adolescence that allows, encourages, even trains young people to remain childish for much longer than necessary. It holds us back from what we could do, from what God made us to do, and even from what we would want to do if we got out from under society’s low expectations. P. 33

Instead, the “teenager” was invented – a young person with most of the desires and abilities of an adult but few of the expectations or responsibilities. P.35

Society doesn’t expect much of anything from young people during their teen years – except trouble. And it certainly doesn’t expect competence, maturity, or productivity. The saddest part is that, as the culture around them has come to expect less and less, young people have dropped to meet those lower expectations. Since most of us have grown up surrounded by these low expectations, meeting them is like breathing to us – we never give it a thought. And we never realize what we’ve lost. As one education expert put it, “our current ceiling for students is really much closer to where the floor ought to be.” Think about that. The most our society expects from teens is really much closer to the least we should expect. P.36

Don’t miss this: statistically the classes were exactly the same. The only difference was in what their teachersΒ expectedΒ of them. Soon, the students began to meet those expectations. The “best and brightest” class began to excel, and the “slower to average” class began to lag behind. As teens, we’re no different from the middle school and college students in those studies. For all of us, expectations are a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the words of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” p. 41

What we find here is clear evidence that God does not hold two standards: one for young adults and one for adults. He has high expectations for both. Where some might look down on or excuse young adults, God calls us to be examples. Where our culture might expect little, God expects great things. p. 42

Where expectations are high, we tend to rise to meet them. Where expectations are low, we tend to drop to meet them. And yet this is the exact opposite of what we’re told to do in 1 Corinthians 14:20: “Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults” (NIV). Our culture says, “Be mature in evil, but in your thinking and behavior be childish.” p. 43

We like the freedom low expectations give us, but we’re really being robbed. p. 44

Chapter 4: A Better Way– Reclaiming the teen years as the launching pad of life

In 2005,Β Time magazine ran a story on “kidults,” a new breed of adolescents in their mid-to late twenties and beyond who offer convincing evidence that the modern concept of adolescence is not a biological stage, but a cultural mindset…”Full-grown men and women who still live with their parents, who dress and talk and party as they did in their teens, hopping from job to job and date to date, having fun but seemingly going nowhere.” Kidults generally have neither clear direction nor a sense of urgency. p. 51

After all, kidults are the logical result of the Myth of Adolescence, which encourages teens to view adulthood as spoiling the fun of the teen years rather than viewing it as the fulfillment of the teen years. Being taught to avoid growing up doesn’t help us launch into adulthood. p. 51

Because doing hard things as teens prepared them for lives of incredible impact- lives that came with additional hard things that they wouldn’t have been able to accomplish otherwise. p. 56

We need to be honest with ourselves. Is how we’re spending our time right now preparing us for what we hope to become in the future? Are we doing things now that will equip us for the greater things God may have for us to do? These are the fundamental questions for this season of our lives. p. 56

These actions are hard because they rest entirely on our own initiative. No one else will make us do them. Because of this, they are almost always the accomplishments we feel best about. p. 58

They’re hard because you won’t see much progress from one day to the next and because, especially at the time, it can seem like you’d be happier if you didn’t do them. Also, these are often tasks that no one else sees that don’t win you recognition or praise- things like being faithful in your spiritual disciplines, expending energy on good study habits, or driving the speed limit (even when you’re late). We do them because they’re right, not because they have an immediate payoff. In every case we’ll be better off long-term, even though the things are “hard” or distasteful in the short-term. p. 59

In order to accomplish things in this category, we have to care more about pleasing God than we do about pleasing people around us. But the payoff is huge: if we do them, we can change the course of history. p. 59

We’re asking you to live not your easiest life, but your best life according to God. p. 60

This is definitely a powerful book and one that would be great on any teen’s bookshelf. I’m glad that many of the lessons discussed in the book were instilled in me during my formative years and I aspire to pass these values and traits on to thousands of teens to come!

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About 5eriouslyernest

Aspiring Servant-Leader studying engineering principles, financial stewardship, business management, and psychology fundamentals in order to cultivate passionate leadership, disseminate positive energy, uplift the community and ultimately create a brighter future for generations to come.
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