I saw this video of Kara Lawson, the coach of Duke’s women’s basketball team, recently, and I want to share it far and wide with everyone I can reach—it’s that good.
The advice she gives her team had me whooping and fist pumping, because her number one most important life lesson is one of my very first points in every keynote, every coaching relationship, every training. Here’s how she explains it:
“Life doesn’t get easier. You handle hard better.”
YES! Here’s the whole video so that you can soak it all up! Prepare to be inspired!
We can’t completely eliminate or avoid the challenging moments of life. So instead of dreading them, instead of wasting energy trying to avoid them at every turn by staying small and playing it safe, what if we invested that same energy into something actually productive—learning to handle them better when they inevitably come up.
How do we do that? It starts with changing the way we interact with challenges.
This is the mental shift.
And when you can make that shift, then you’re in growth mode. Because handling hard better is a skill you can hone, and the growth starts when you commit to building the necessary skills to handle “hard” well!
Here are three tools you can start using today to help you handle hard going forward:
1. Cognitive reframing:
When you learn to reframe negative thoughts by looking for a more positive, more realistic, or more helpful perspective, you can avoid getting stuck in the “hard” and get a clearer perspective on how you can respond thoughtfully, intentionally, and skillfully.
2. Social support:
Spending time with people you love and people who love you isn’t just about finding a safe haven away from the challenges of the world—you’re literally helping your brain become better equipped for hard moments. When we spend time with our close circles, our brains are firing off neurotransmitters that make us feel good in the moment—serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin—but flooding your brain with those feel-good hormones also changes the chemical makeup of your brain. When challenges hit, your brain will be able to navigate them with more calm because it’s got those happiness hormones in reserve.
3. Celebrate victories:
Most of us are good at reveling in our big wins—graduating from college, landing that job promotion, buying your dream house—but it’s way too easy to let the smaller, everyday victories pass you by. Ticked off everything on your to-do list today? Text your BFF and let them hype you up. Folded and put away that giant pile of laundry?
This calls for ice cream! Got in a workout today? Take a second to tell yourself how proud you are! Not only does it feel great in the moment, when you purposely celebrate your victories, your brain gets better and better at noticing your wins, big or small. Instead of hyper-focusing on the challenges and setbacks, you’re training your brain to look for and lean into the good!
Check out this list of 14 more tips to help you handle hard better! (Feel free to download it and share it with your circle too!)
If you want even more ideas—check out this LinkedIn post, where some amazing humans shared other ways they’re strengthening their resilience muscles. While you’re there, I hope you’ll drop yours in the comments too, or share it with your team or your close circle!
The beauty of this journey is that we’re all learning from each other along the way, and when you inspire others, you’re not just strengthening your own resilience, you’re also building a more supportive and connected community.
There will be ups and downs, moments of doubt and triumph in this life. When you learn to handle hard better for yourself, you also make your corner of the world better along the way.
The world needs you—your strength, your leadership, and your positive impact. It takes practice, patience, and a whole lot of heart, but if you’re here, I know you already have everything you need within you.
P.S. While we’re on the subject of things that are hard, I know that one of the most challenging growth points for many of us is giving and receiving feedback. Whether it’s positive or problematic, navigating feedback can be hard.
So this month, my weekly newsletter is focused on all things feedback—how to give it, how to receive it, how to embrace it, and how to build a culture of productive feedback. Welcome to Feedback February!
We’re leaning in and talking about action steps you can take and tools you can use to help you handle all that hard better. Let’s learn how to change the way we interact with feedback so that we can normalize it, and make it both supportive and productive!
If that sounds like something that could help you grow, you can sign up for my Weekly Mind-shift here and have it delivered right to your inbox!
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