Monday, July 4, 2011

Do Hard Things: A Book Review

"To our parents Gregg and Sono Harris. This book is the message of your lives. Our triumph is your triumph. We love you."

Those words leave a clue. These parents are their children's heroes and role models.

Alex and Brett Harris' father, Gregg was responsible in giving them relevant books to read during their summer vacation when they were sixteen, bored and without direction. The topics include history, philosophy, theology, sociology, science, business, journalism and globalization. From that intense guided summer reading program, the twins started a blog and eventually wrote this life changing book.

Their blog is called The Rebelution which precisely means a teenage rebellion against low expectations.

A thought provoking question that they raised is:

Why is it that young men and women of the past were able to do things and do them well at fifteen and sixteen that many of today's twenty-five to thirty-year-olds can't do? Is it because of young people are now called "teenagers"?

It is an age group that has not been defined positively or clearly by media, society or even parents. Most articles and books written are about, the how to survive or cope with teenagers. According to the book, society does not expect competence, maturity or productivity except trouble from teens. So, what we expect and how we train teens will produce the results of tomorrow. Leaders or great young adults don't just happen..

With that, they want to reclaim the teen year as a launching pad of life. Instead of excuses and failure to launch, the Harris Brothers come up with five hard things teens must do to go against low expectations.

1. Things that are outside your comfort zone. They gave an example of a teen that has not failed anything because he hasn't done anything. He misses opportunity after opportunity to grow, explore, discover and get stronger because he will not get out of his comfort zone. Most people are trap in comfort zone because of fear. Fears are well concealed lies.

2. Things that go beyond what is expected or required or raising the bar. Don't get complacent. Pursue excellence and not excuses.

3. Things that are too big to accomplish alone. The need to collaborate with others because there is strength, to walk with the wise, use technology to grow and the need for support.

4. Things that don't earn an immediate payoff. Doing small mundane things that do not show immediate results is like an exercise routine for the body. It takes time before results show. Make it a sincere effort even when it seems like unwanted tasks.

5. Things that challenge the cultural norm. Do the right things even when others don't, even when it hurts and take a stand no matter what others think when it is the right thing to do.

The authors believe that teens can create a counterculture from scratch and lead a generation that rise above the low expectations. Teens can change the world of music, business, finances, films and missions by doing the hard things in creative and world changing ways.

After reading this book which is written by teens for teens, I have a sense of urgency that we as parents need to step up and raise our bar. Our young people lack role models and support. It confirms the message that I have since launching this blog, is to make this a place where alive, relevant and uncompromising young adults are launched. For that to happen we need to launch first.

Most teens are not doing hard things because, we, their parents are not doing the hard things. Some of us can't even passed five of those hard things listed above. We live in comfort, we crave comfort, we long for comfort, we want, want, want stuff. We complain when it is uncomfortable and inconvenient. According to reports, 95% of adults spend most of their free time on entertainment and only 5% of adults spend most of their free time on self education. It is called our E2E ratio. So, what is our E2E ratio?

On a recent day trip with teens from our local school, I discovered few things that really disturbed me:

1. Some teens need to be entertained at all times. They must have the music blasting in the bus just right after we started our journey. As a chaperone, I asked for the radio to be turned off because I do not agree with the lyrics. That upsets one teen and he demands an answer.

2. Candy wrappers are left everywhere. What happen to civic consciousness? I can't believe it when asked to pick up the wrappers; the teen said it is not his. Hello, I saw it!

3. Some teens do not have the patience to wait for lunch. They whined and complained about being hungry.

4. There is no appreciation from teens for chaperones or teachers. Not a word of 'thank you' after the event.

What went wrong with some teens? Parents, are we just hoping that our teens will turn out to be great young adults or are we doing the hard things? What are your thoughts on that? As a parent, I am not perfect. I have my share of mistakes, but boy, do we need help!

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Claudia is a mother of 2, wife and stay at home and work from home mom for 16 years. She desires to see parents stepping up to be their best and raising up a generation of uncompromising, relevant and purposed driven adults. She believes traveling, volunteering and learning another language in addition to English are important tools for educating children.

You can find her at You can download a FREE REPORT:
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