Do The Hard Thing

October 15th, 2009 by admin

Somewhere along the road of life, my younger brother Brett chose to follow a philosophy that differentiated him from others and allowed him to achieve greatness. Brett and I grew up in the small town of Beaver, Utah, 200 miles south of Salt Lake City. Beaver is home to about 2,500 residents. If you’ve ever watched television, you have an unknown connection with Beaver. Philo T. Farnsworth, native son of Beaver, invented it! You can thank or curse him later.

Before Brett had turned 16, he’d already won several southern Utah golf tournaments. In high school he was elected student body president, set a State record in the 400-yard dash, and graduated as valedictorian of his class with a perfect 4.0. All of these achievements acted as a springboard for an exacting college experience. Brett attended Brigham Young University in pre-med, focusing on a degree in engineering
design technology while also working a full-time job. University advisors counseled him that in order to make it into med school, not only would he need to quit his job, but also change major tracks. For med school, his program was GPA suicide. But Brett had a vision and a personal “secret formula” for success.

Long story short, Brett graduated with high honors from the DET program, completed his graduate work at Columbia Medical Center, and went to Johns Hopkins where he was selected as head resident in his final year. He was also highlighted in episode six of ABC’s Hopkins 24/7, was highlighted as a feature story on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and on and on and on. What does all this have to do with you and entrepreneurship? It’s Brett’s “secret formula”:  Do the Hard Thing.

One evening over dinner, I pressed Brett on the substance behind this mantra. He responded: “Most people are like water; they take the path of least resistance. They look for short cuts or have the mindset of ‘Can I get by with doing less?’ As soon as you decide to do the hard things, you’ve achieved two victories: you’ve eliminated 98 percent of your competition (they’re off doing the easy things) and you’ve set yourself apart, differentiated yourself, and made yourself unique.”

Ron penned the following verse, and I think it sums up the chapter well:

“Stars were not scattered ‘cross the midnight sky
To only be seen by the longing eye.
Stars were scattered above the land
To be grasped and held by the longing hand.”

One of my favorite sayings comes from an entrepreneur in insurance and real estate about eight decades ago. Named Spencer W. Kimball, he later became a prominent religious leader in the 1970s and 1980s. He said, “Do it, do it now, and do it with a purpose. Make no small plans, for it has not the magic to stir the soul of man.” Make no small plans! Whoever you think you are, you must know this: you are not wired to accept failure. You are not wired to stay down. You are wired to get up and go forward. You are wired for greatness! What is your star? Can you see it? Can you visualize it? Your willingness to do the hard thing will allow you to grasp and hold onto your star.

Porter’s Points – Do the Hard Thing

  • Analyze what is in your heart and in your head. You must be willing to do the work and balance the sacrifices.
  • Make a list of what you bring to the table.
  • Don’t pick the path of least resistance. Differentiate yourself. Make yourself unique.
  • Doing the hard thing will set you apart from most of your competition. Your unalterable determination will propel you beyond the rest.
  • Make big plans! Visualize your star and go after it!
  • Your mental attitude must be a “Can do!” attitude.

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