Three Lessons Learned The Hard Way


As a child, I remember my mom asking me if I wanted to “learn the hard way or the easy way.” The “hard way” meant my way. And, obviously, the “easy way” was “her way.” I was a good kid and I rarely chose the “hard way.” I knew better. Keeping the peace and remaining a “good kid” was almost always my priority.

Then, I grew up. I learned there were few things in life that were easy. I learned I had to plan hard and work hard to get what I needed and wanted. There wasn’t a choice between “easy and hard.” You just do whatever was needed to get the task done. There was a lot of trial and error, learning thousands of ways of not doing something before learning how to actually do it.

It took a while, but I learned there are some things you can’t learn the hard way. I’ve narrowed out that down to three specific lessons that can be applied to anything and everything in life. It doesn’t matter what life throws at you or what you jump into without a push from life, these three lessons can’t be learned the easy way.

Let It Go

Learning to “let it go” is not an easy lesson. Figuring out the reward, if there is one, is not worth the effort can feel like being defeated or giving up. It shouldn’t. We can’t build a space station with toothpicks and glue. Some things are just impossible. Facing that, especially for people who have been told “anything is possible,” is a hard lesson to learn.

The lesson is even harder when your “let it go” lesson has to do with emotional issues. Letting go of a relationship that will never be what it should be is always hard. “But if I work hard enough, it will…” Sadly, that isn’t the case. We have to be able to decide in our hearts (and minds) the reward isn’t worth effort.

Another “let it go” lesson that is hard is the one that deals with our careers and financial situations. “I spent 10 years with this company…” No matter how hard you work or try, you just can’t get where you want to be. That isn’t your failure; it is their failure. There comes a time you have to walk away, let it go, and find the vehicle that will take you where you want to be.

Obviously there are the daily “let it go” lessons. Not doing the dishes. Having a pizza delivered instead of cooking. Smiling when your spouse thinks they won the argument. Around our house, we call those things “picking our battles.” It all comes back to effort and reward. Looking at the big picture often results in deciding to “let it go.”

Truthfully, I have found most “let it go” lessons are dependent on others. As well as time. We can’t make people bend to our desires and needs. We don’t always have the time to wait. Those things are out of our control. When we can’t have some form of control in what is going on in our lives, it may very well be the time to “let it go.”

Roll With It

Learning to “roll with it” is another hard lesson. Probably because it is much like “let it go.” It has so much to do with accepting things aren’t exactly as we want, but realizing it will take a bit more effort. And, the reward is worth the effort. 

A husband who leaves his wet towel on the floor is an example of “roll with it” lessons. It drives you crazy, but he’s so good with the kids and he makes you laugh. When he’s there to hold you when you cry, the wet towel doesn’t seem so important anymore. The same can be said of a boss who never pronounces your name right. You are doing worthwhile work and, with the exception of the name thing, you are respected and valued. The pay is great and the hours even better; the commute is pretty good too. You learn to smile when you hear your name wrong because it really isn’t as bad when you look at the big picture.

Acceptance is what it comes down to. Imperfection is part of life. As long as those imperfections do not make you compromise yourself, your beliefs and what other priorities you have established, it is okay to “roll with it.” Face it – the carousel is nice, but the rollercoaster has its good points as well.

Rock It

“Rock it” is a hard lesson. You would think it wouldn’t be, but it is. You spend so much time “letting it go” and “rolling with it,” when it is time to truly “rock it,” you find yourself at a loss. Think about it…When all the pieces fit together, things are going great – what do you really do with all that?

Please don’t run away from it. A lot of people do. It is now your time to shine. You’re not putting on a smile, you are wearing your smile! Success and happiness are good things. Embrace them. Enjoy them. This is the time to “rock it.”

“But, the last time I felt this way…” So what? This isn’t the last time; this is this time. Fear of success – we all get it. All of us need to get rid of it. It does no one any good. I tell my teenage daughter all the time “find that thing that sets your hair on fire and rock it!” Who cares what it is? No one cares what happens the last time. If someone does, apply your “let it go” lesson to them.

Life doesn’t throw us “rock it” moments often. If ever. “Rock it” moments – we create them. We looked at the big picture. We weighed the effort and the reward. We found our thing. Our thing, when it is really our thing, isn’t just a moment. It can last a lifetime. Or it can be the vehicle that takes us to an even better time to “rock it.”

I’m not known for my “touchy feely” moments. When I do have them, I usually don’t share them with the world. Not this time. These three lessons learned the hard way need to be shared. They need to be pondered and picked apart so we can know the difference. We need to learn from them so we can get to the “rock it” place in our lives. Once we are there, we only have one thing to do – “rock it.” You should know – I know a place where people come together and help each other through these lessons. If you are interested (or curious!) you should join us.

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