How do we do hard things, let alone, do them alone?

So often, we do hard things by drafting off of others.  We have friends, teammates, colleagues who get us through, give us advice, and role model for us.  Their presence speeds our plow.

This morning I did the hard thing — the thing I thought was the hard thing — and got my ass out of bed and onto my rowing machine at home.  I nearly pulled a muscle as I congratulated myself for this, programmed in my workout, set up Outlander on the screen — please, people, we can still have ART! — and got going.

And then I realized that the hard thing was not the doing, but the doing well.

As many of you know, I am a competitive rower.  I am strong and I am fit — I’ve worked hard for both of those things — but I am crap at the actual rowing.  I can move boats because I am light for my strength, and because I’m older than my fitness level, I can row with younger women and age up boats into being much more competitive categories.  In other words, my job in the boat is this: be light, be strong, be old, and don’t fuck it up. (No, really, that’s almost a direct quote from my coach.)

None of that is a humble brag.  Read it again. My contribution to rowing is anything but the actual rowing.  Insert hands up shrug emoji here, right?

That said, when the season starts again, if it starts again, I’d like to be in a boat, and contributing more than ever.  So, onto the rowing machine — ‘the ERG’ — I went.

And then I realized that was only the start.

When I ERG with my teammates, I sit with women far younger, far fitter, far stronger, and far better than me.  I draft off of their depth, catching quicker than I would normally, relaxing into the release less frantically, and overall turning my force into power so that our output is far more efficient.  Today, I accomplished none of that.

I realized that I had to do it all myself. I had to do the hard thing alone.

We think that what’s hard about doing hard things is having the mental fortitude to do the actual hard things.  But what’s hard about doing hard things — and harder right now — is that we are doing them alone. I had to learn not just how to dig into the well and find the will to keep going, but to organize myself in a way where I kept present of mind while also having presence of body.

No longer can I draft off of their strength.  No longer can I draft off of their abilities. No longer can I draft off of their experience.  

It’s time to find my own.