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Avoidance Of The Hard
By Donny Shankle

When I was a little boy I had this toy made up of two horseshoes connected by a chain with a metal ring around the center. The idea behind it was getting the metal ring separated from the center. I would fiddle with it for hours in the beginning trying to get the ring free but for all my determination I couldn’t figure it out. Out of frustration I asked my father how to do it and he showed me. The problem was he did it so fast that I was still dumbfounded. Even after watching him, I still couldn’t figure it out. One night as I was twisting and turning the chain the ring came free but even then I didn’t know what I did to get it free. I thought I was cool though and showed it to my father and he told me to put the ring back on and do it again. He wanted to judge whether or not I really did learn or got lucky. I was cornered and had to confess I still didn’t know how to get the ring off. Eventually, with enough practice and thinking I could get the ring free with the same speed and understanding my father did. As hard as it was at first, I soon understood the toy’s simplicity.

To say a thing or task is simple is to say it’s simple because you have had the practice to uncover its mystery. In reality the simple is hard. In order to say you understand something requires great study and practice. Is a thing really simple? Even observing someone easily perform the toy's challenge, I still couldn’t see how simple it was to remove the ring. My eyes couldn’t keep up long enough for my brain to understand. It was not going to do me any good to practice with a different or simpler toy. Even if shown slowly how to remove the ring, I may or may not still understand. I do know once my hands figured out how to move the horseshoes in a certain way the ring always came free. It was my practice and single minded persistence which overcame my many failed attempts.

Before you begin to think you’re in waters which are to deep to tread ask yourself whether or not you have put in the practice. Have you trained a thing which is hard to make it look simple? Champions face head on what is hard and unravel its mystery through practice. To say a thing is simple is an immense ordeal especially when that thing will require many years of practice. A sport like weightlifting is approached no differently from how I went about playing with that toy. You can watch and have others show you what to do but will that really work? Will you understand how to snatch and clean and jerk unless you practice for yourself? No you will not and you will certainly never lift enough weight to call yourself a champion.

Do not avoid what is hard. Tackling tasks which are difficult is one way to strengthen your overall capability. Each new hard endeavor you commit yourself to and succeed at accomplishing will make you a stronger and wiser person. It’s OK to fail at the hard so long as you do not remain idle and commit to understanding why you did fail. Don’t avoid the hard. The Earth is full of plenty of destruction but its also full of even more abundance. The weightlifter who works to make what is hard look simple goes through years of abundance and destruction albeit of course on a much smaller scale compared to the planet. One of the great abundant moments for weightlifters is finding a solidarity amongst other weightlifters who are all pushing each other to new personal records and gold medals.

There are people who know how hard a task they set for themselves is going to be and they get on with it and there are those who are afraid of it. Those who are afraid either give up entirely or they distract themselves from even beginning the commitment necessary to doing it. Maybe they give it a try and get a taste of what’s needed and convince themselves they are not good enough. They avoid what is hard maybe because they have no belief in what they can do. Or they overly complicate things in order to find any excuse from facing the test head on. There lies another challenge which is way more important than being a champion weightlifter. The challenge of not being that person who unnecessarily over complicates things.

Perhaps that toy as a boy sparked an interest in accomplishing harder tasks later in life. I like to think so. Don’t be afraid of the difficulty that lies within pushing your body and mind in the gym. Along with the introspection necessary to improve you discover what willpower is and how powerful it can be. Imposing your will in practice is what makes you figure out the frustrating toy or climb the podium to the top in competition. I applaud those who face the hard challenges and it’s one of the reasons I love being around weightlifters. The stress is easy to see. The challenge is not disguised. It’s get up and try to lift the bar again or go find yourself and easier toy.