This summer I picked up The Dirty Life, Kristin Kimball’s memoir of her first year running a farm with her idealist husband. She knew just enough to know that she wanted to throw her lot in with his, but not enough to know how crazy and near impossible their project was. She almost left him. She was worried about money, about failing, but that wasn’t even part of his thinking:
In his view, we were already a success, because we were doing something hard and it was something that mattered to us. You don’t measure things like that with words like success or failure, he said. Satisfaction comes from trying hard things and then going on to the next hard thing, regardless of the outcome. What mattered was whether or not you were moving in a direction you thought was right.
Wow. Do I shrink from the difficult, or do I choose what’s hard but matters to me, whether or not it appears successful?
Whatever your crazy project is, whether tackling a marathon or persisting in kindness to an ornery coworker, take heart! You are already a success. Reminds me of Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own: “If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
(If you were interested in Ben’s work at the farm, you’ll find The Dirty Life fascinating. Hard work, defined.)