John Cowan - Do The Hard Thing

Publish Date
Thursday, 11 February 2016, 2:18PM
By John Cowan

My current motto is, “Do the Hard Thing”. I have written that phrase with a marker pen on my office wall.  That way, I see it often and it is encouraging me to do a very hard thing I have been putting off for years, which is re-doing the wall paper in my office… so that I don’t have unsightly marker pen scribbles on it.

I am convinced that ‘doing the hard thing’ is one of the secrets of life. Tackling the tasks we don’t want to do and persevering at things that aren’t immediately rewarding. I believe that it is even more important for eventual success in life than natural talent. Nothing is more typical than a talented person who fails to achieve in life. They get overtaken by people with very ordinary abilities but who have some grit in their character.   I believe this is the main reason you should get your kid doing homework. Of course they hate it! And I am not convinced that homework actually delivers all that much in terms of useful knowledge. The most important thing about homework is that it teaches children to work and study independently, to do the hard thing.

If they are going to achieve that, then we, as parents, have to do the hard thing too. That means we have to be tough and firm and insist that they do their homework, when most of us would far rather let our kids just relax and have fun. You have to convince them – and yourself – that it really is worth the hassle.

If anything is going to make it easier, it is having an absolutely regular homework time scheduled: every school night at seven o’clock (or whatever you agree upon), it’s homework time. That way you don’t have to argue and renegotiate every night, you just have to remind them what you have agreed to and stick to it.

It’s not the easiest task you’ll have as a parent, but when they come to pick you up in their Mercedes, you’ll know it was worth it.

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