The Story Economy Blog

On Doing What Doesn’t Look Difficult, But Is

Today, let’s play multiple choice. Which do you think is easier to do?

THIS . . .

smiling in chair

. . . OR THIS?

splits smiling edited copy

The second one—doing the splits—is far easier for me than the first, where I’m self-consciously trying to be fun! I know this because that little clipping of me in the chair was shot as I was making my latest video (it will be ready soon—stay tuned!). I was rolling myself in the chair across the floor, trying to get fun B-roll. Except it was sort of torture.

There’s something here, and I’ve been thinking about it this week, trying to dig up exactly what it is. I’ve been noticing that things that seem effortless are often very hard. And things that look extremely difficult? Sometimes they come without the pain and effort the world assumes (although, I admit, while doing the splits may not be painful, showing you a picture of me doing the splits sort of is . . .).

It’s really tempting to just do the impressive stuff that you look good doing, to stick to the parts of your wheelhouse that give you the most bang—even if they don’t really further you.

I can tell you that doing the splits doesn’t do a damn thing for me. It doesn’t challenge me. I’ve been doing it since I was 8 or 9. It’s nearly irrelevant. In fact, for what it’s worth, my overstretched hamstrings are probably a hindrance to me as a runner.

My real challenge—what the first picture represents—is to be at ease while trying to step into something bigger. The irony is that I don’t get to a place of ease without a lot of effort! But the rest of the world can’t see the effort.

You know how sometimes you have to take a counterintuitive approach on something and, just as an exercise, think about it completely opposite from how you normally do? This is that.

This is a yes, but kind of thing.

As in: Yes, of course, we should focus our efforts as an organization on what we do very well. Of course, we should highlight our unique value proposition. Of course we should. We can do the splits, for goodness sake! And the world is impressed with the splits. So yes, we should . . . BUT, what if we actually tried something we’re not good at because it will elevate us and our customers to a higher plane? What if we forgot about the splits for a while, and instead, forced ourselves into a place of discomfort? We may not get credit for the discomfort, because it might look easy. But what if it’s still worth it?

It’s not that you should abandon your best stuff! But perhaps look critically at your best stuff—and decide if it’s really what makes you best, or if it just looks impressive.

And stay tuned for more teasers about my new video! (Which definitely does not feature me doing the splits.)

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