“Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” Review & Reflect (Part 2)

I have to figure out a way to get more self-development books in the hands of young people. Folks often say that they don’t like to read, but I’ve found that there’s typically a deeper meaning beyond their lack of amusement. It may have to do with attention spans, reading speed, and time commitment. I haven’t met anyone who isn’t willing to read when they have the motivation to seek wisdom.

Chapter 5: That First Scary Step– How to do hard things that take you outside your comfort zone

Now Tyler is twenty-one years old, and he hasn’t failed at anything. In fact, he hasn’t really done anything. He’s missed opportunity after opportunity to grow, explore, discover, and get stronger. p. 64

If we take a step despite feeling uncomfortable, afraid, or inadequate, our comfort zones expand. We grow in strength and skill. What we consider normal for us changes, sometimes radically. p. 67

We’ve noticed that the fence that keeps us from breaking out of our comfort zone is nearly always built of fear- fear of weakness, discomfort, failure, humiliation. p. 69

Fortunately, fears are usually just well-concealed lies. p. 69

What we’re really saying is that we don’t want to do things that don’t come easily or naturally. We don’t want to break through our fears. And by our actions, we’re also saying that God isn’t good and powerful enough to help us do what we can’t comfortably do on our own. p. 71

Great faith is the product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials. p. 71

It’s not about feeling strong; it’s about obeying God. Even when you’re afraid.  p. 74

Of course, we’re not encouraging you to go jump into an aquarium with a bunch of sharks- some fears are healthy! Instead we’re talking about things you know you should do but aren’t doing because you’re afraid you might fail, afraid you’ll feel awkward or foolish, or just afraid of the new and unknown. p. 77

True courage is not the absence of fear. It is refusing to allow fear to control your actions. p. 77

What Caleb learned is that it’s okay to fail at hard things, because all effort- even failed effort- produces growth. p. 80

Chapter 6: Raising the Bar– How to do hard things that go beyond what’s expected or required

That day Sarah realized that if she truly wanted to be prepared for life, she’d have to take responsibility for her own education. If she measured success only by other people’s standards of what  was acceptable, she would never reach her true potential. She would need to set her own bar high and then do her best to exceed it. p. 88

Those who could do a lot better or tackle a much bigger challenge seldom do so when they’re already “good enough” by other people’s standards. p. 88

Without a doubt, pushing yourself to do more than is asked, expected, or required is nearly always a lonely choice. It can set you apart from friends, co-workers, other Christians, even family. As we’ll see, the desire to do your best- even when no one around you requires it- takes a special kind of character. It puts you at odds with the accepted culture, which says “Just do your best” but means something very different. Think about it. This common phrase, “Just do your best,” actually encourages the opposite. When someone says, “Just do your best,” are you inspired to reach for more? Or does it feel like permission to just get by? We say, “Hey, I did my best.” But did we really? More likely what we mean is, “Hey, I gave it a shot, and that’ll have to be good enough.” p. 89

The Myth of Adolescence tries to get you in one of two ways. The first is to flat-out brainwash you with low expectations. If that doesn’t work, it happily paints you as an exception. In this case, being an exception means that compared to the irresponsibility, immaturity, and incompetence expected from teenagers, you are officially “above average.” p. 90

Before long you’ll become blinded by complacency, which is defined as a smug feeling of satisfaction with who you are and what you’ve done. p. 90

Like pride, complacency thrives when hidden behind rationalizations (“Hey, I did my best…”). Obviously this means that the majority of complacent people don’t think they have a problem. And as many wise wise men throughout history have observed, the most dangerous enemy is the one we fail to recognize. p. 90

But don’t kid yourself. The cost of complacency is real, and it can be tragic. Life gets boring, and we’re not sure why. We know, or at least suspect, that there’s a lot more we could do or be. But floating along, there’s no way to be sure. Might as well take another nap. p. 91

Be known for what you do (more than for what you don’t). Pursue excellence, not excuses. p. 93

God’s Word is clear. Our culture’s standard of simply not doing bad stuff is really no standard at all. p. 97

We’re not just supposed to avoid sinning; we’re supposed to pursue righteousness in a way that others will want to imitate. p. 98

Mary has fallen prey to the curse that low expectations place on talented people. She has gotten stuck doing what comes easily because even things that are easy for her are impressive to others. In her mind, she has already arrived- yet she has never explored the true extent of her potential. p. 99

Challenge yourself and others to call the normal things normal and save the word excellent for things that really are. p. 100

A commitment to growth kills complacency. p. 103

Despite the message being targeted towards teenagers, this book contains universal principles and wisdom that I hope one day soon become normal in household conversations and community initiatives. Mediocrity is NOT normal and it is time that everyone, young and old, seizes his potential. Everyone grows older, but not everyone grows up. How do we change that? Be one of the people that do, and then maybe other people will realize that they can do it too!


About Ernest Levert Jr.

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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