A Present/Challenge For the New Year

“If you do the things that are easy your life will be hard, but if you do the things that are hard your life will be easy.”

This is a quote that comes to mind whenever I attempt to do something that is new and difficult. I have to remind myself that most things in my life that I can now do well, I failed at in the beginning. I experienced this feeling again recently.

A friend and fraternity brother of mine named Jeff surprised me with a Christmas present. It was a board game called Pente. After the immediate excitement of getting a gift I felt that funny feeling in the pit of my stomach when Jeff said, “Learn this game and them come back so I can beat you at it.”

It was that feeling that comes with unsure competition. I like to compete, but I like to win. When I’m doing something I’m not sure of competing feels like shit. I knew that I would have to learn something new, practice, and perfect it in order to compete. And that also meant I had to lose. I had to fail.

Most of the really big accomplishments in my life began as failures. I was a failure at wrestling and later was good enough to receive a college scholarship. I was a failure at public speaking and ended up a Toastmaster speaking champion in their hall of fame. I was terrible when I began playing chess, losing every match for a whole summer. But later I was known as one of the better players at school.

So, with these past failures that turned in to victories in mind, I will begin to learn this new game. While I’m learning and losing I will learn about the game, its history and origins. I think this may take the sting out of losing and help me keep going.

The losing/learning won’t be fun, but I know what’s on the other side of effort. I also know what’s on the other side of doing nothing. I will learn, I will lose and then I will win and be great.

As you begin a new year with new challenges, remember that we are not always good when we begin. But we can improve, we can get better. If you’re like me, you may have to set aside your ego during the losing/learning phase. But history has shown that with effort we can get better, we can improve. We can all win.

Jeff, thanks for the present. I accept the challenge. Happy New Year.

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