Doing Hard Things
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of if I'm honest, I love the name of Glennon Doyle's podcast, "we can do hard things." I love the sentiment, you know, it's this, this boost of confidence and a gentle reminder that everyone thinks that certain things are hard. And it's normal to feel that things are hard. And it's kind of become a mantra and a reminder for me, like, it's, it's okay to feel that something we want to do or have to do is not easy. And it's okay to be aware that it might not work out. And that challenging things are to be expected in life. But it's this, this, again, this little boost of confidence that we can do it. And it's an important reminder, because it is human nature 100% to tend to gravitate towards, and to seek out things that are comfortable, and things that are normal. That's how our brains work, and hard work, and therefore the discomfort and the deviation from ease that comes along with hard work are not quote unquote, normal. And they're not, quote unquote, comfortable for our human brains. And so subconsciously, hard things can feel like something that we should avoid. And if I'm honest, I feel like I either like to be exceptionally comfortable and cozy, or doing nearly impossible things, as exemplified with trying to be a professional racecar driver, or starting a podcast or whatever it might be, while also simultaneously like being a homebody and staying cozy inside. So anyway, I do like doing really hard things. And when I was thinking about it for this episode, I think there are a number of things that make the challenge, really exciting. So one, you know, it's really satisfying. And I feel very proud of myself when I work exceptionally hard and master something, that sense of pride. So whether it was, you know, wanting to go to Stanford and not getting in early decision having to figure out how to be better so that I could get in with regular decision, whether it's something like that, or if it's moving up in a racing series to try to be as good as I can, as fast as I can and become a winner and become a champion, you know, just that whole process, that journey of working hard, pushing myself is really satisfying. And I think it actually extends also to even like silly things like going running, you know, I get a runner's high. But I will also admit that running, it feels so miserable a lot of the time. But then at the end, when I get my breathing master, and I'm able to get a good stride, and maybe my time is better, like that then feels really satisfying. So it's kind of across the spectrum of feeling satisfied. I also really feel like the more challenging things I do, the more I learned about myself. And you know, I learn about how and if I'm able to rise to the occasion and develop the necessary skills needed for whatever it is I'm doing, whether that's keynote speaking or, you know, something that didn't work really well was consulting for web3 and NFT stuff, something like that, that challenge may or may not have been as successful as I would have hoped. And if I if I don't develop the skills, or I don't rise to the occasion, or I don't succeed, I learned that maybe something about that is more of a weakness or something that needs to be worked on even further. So there's a lot of personal growth that comes from doing challenging things and seeing, you know, you don't know your limits until you pass them, I really, really believe that and you don't know if you're going to pass them unless you try them. And you know, on top of all that, I know that I'm a competitive person. And I like winning. And part of that is tackling new things as we master certain things, being able to go after new things that are challenging, and to really see where we can take it. I love the potential. I love the opportunity. I love the unknown of what could happen, what could develop, where can we take something, and I think that's part of what makes tackling hard things really exciting for me. And there are other benefits, right? You know, doing hard things can boost your confidence. It really helps with mental toughness. So in general, and in the reading I had done in preparation for this podcast episode. You know, there are a lot of benefits to doing hard things on an interpersonal level on a, you know, development level. But that doesn't mean that they're any less hard to do. And interestingly, when I was doing research for this episode, I came across an empirical study from 2006. And I've linked it in my episode description, but it found from its participants that if we as people are upset if their participants were upset, they were less likely to want to do hard things. But if their participants were upbeat and positive, they were more likely to do hard things. And anecdotally, in my experience, I feel like this checks out. And you know, if I'm feeling good, I'm going to want to go challenge myself and if I'm not feeling good, I'm going to want you know comfort and I I also I find studies like this interesting to read and beneficial for my own personal sense of well being because they kind of validate what otherwise can feel like a subjective and emotional response. Right? Like, ah, I'm not feeling good. I don't want to do this. Am I just a wuss right? Am I just weak? Am I just not good enough? But no, I mean, this is something that is actually tracked across multiple groups of people. So and it's cool to know that I'm not alone in feeling the certain ways that can sometimes feel isolating, or make me feel less than. So since a non-insignificant part of doing hard things comes down to our mood and our mindset, I'lll argue that one of the key factors of doing hard things is competence. And confidence is about having a belief and a positive regard of yourself and your ability to succeed and to do things and to kind of have that positive view on yourself which goes back and reinforces that he hasn't said study. And this discussion around confidence reminds me of an experience that I had in competitive national go karting when I was 14. So we were at Daytona, daytona international speedway, we were on the infield on the go kart track for speed weeks. And again, I was 14 years old or so. And I worked with my parents and my driver coach and mechanic Glenn Butler, who's a world champion and go-karter himself. And you know, we've been working together for a little while at this point. And I think I qualified in the top 10 somewhere, I was somewhere on the front part of the grid. And we were walking through the pits and then through the grid to go line up for the race. And I knew that I was a good racer, but I was still nervous. And I guess that that really showed as I was walking through the coat or through the pits with my coach. And you know, the way we walk through the pits and go karting is the go karts, which are a couple 100 pounds, they are on top of a rolling cart basically. So Glen was pushing the go cart from the back and I was standing next to him and walking walking beside the go kart. And I guess that he saw that I was looking nervous or looking less than confident. And he looks over at me and he just says Julia, you look like you're scared little kid right now you know you're walking up to a race, you're starting in the top 10 You need to stand up straight, you need to stand up tall, keep your eyes up, look to the front of the grid, which is where you are going you out qualified all these boys and you need to scare them, you they need to know that you are not nervous. And they need to know that you are out here to win. And they need to know that you are going to absolutely be out for blood. And basically, I needed to exude that confidence. And he was very serious. And he was basically, not yelling at me, but he was being a firm coach and saying what he saw and what I needed to do, not only to try to intimidate the competition, but to also I realize gain confidence in myself. And this moment with Glenn was transformative for me and my confidence. And it was kind of like a mix of fake till you make it even if you don't feel super confident, or if you feel nervous, don't let people see that. And you know, train yourself to feel better than that. You know, it was an important lesson and not letting the competition competition see my emotions, right. And to kind of be a competitor from a 360 degree view. It was all kinds of stuff that was crucial to my development as a competitor. So Huge shouts to Glenn for helping me develop a better relationship with my own confidence and how I carry myself. So thank you. And confidence is one element needed to do hard things for sure. And in my own personal experience, I found there a few other things that are really important, that have helped me as I've tackled a number of hard things. And the first thing is to really have that positive mindset. And I've mentioned multiple times that I know that I am inherently an optimistic and positive person, I get really into my fields and my emotions, what's good and bad. But overall, I definitely have a can do mindset. And I think that that in general, even if we just go back to this 2006 study, you know, the upbeat, the positive, it helps us want to do more challenging things and to have that confidence that we can do it. I also think it's really important to have a good understanding of what my needs and my non negotiables you know, are that I need to accomplish. I think being realistic about that. And you know, being clear whether that's you know, a tangible thing a pragmatic thing, a lifestyle thing like what those non-negotiables are, because then I will be more inclined to go after it even if it's unpleasant or even if it's challenging because it has to get done. It's kind of like a survival mode but for like looking at your life and figuring out what exactly those things might be. So whether that is knowing that I want to keep eating large amounts of the incredible food that Ben cooks for me, but then I also have to do the hard work of working out and staying active and healthy so that I can maintain the healthy lifestyle that I consider very important for my well being. Or if it's something on the racetrack, you know, knowing that we have to go full throttle through a corner, because I know that that's what it's going to take to have a fast lap time and be competitive, even though it is really hard to do that scary thing, right? Any number of things, you know, having, knowing what your needs are and those non negotiables. And the last thing that's super important, I think, for tackling hard things is to have a growth mindset. And this becomes really important because obviously, we might not always be successful at the hard things that we are doing. And so having the belief that I will learn something from the experience, and I will improve and I will come away a better person helps make the activation energy easier to attain because, you know, I know that there will be some win in the experience, even if the end result of doing the hard thing isn't quite what I wanted. And all of these elements and more I'm sure came into play when I made my nascar xfinity series debut in 2022. So for some quick background on that, so Nascar xfinity is the second highest level in NASCAR. And for those of you who have been following me for a while, you know that I started in Formula cars and then I switched to oval NASCAR style when I was about 16/17 ran a lot of part time seasons throughout college, graduated from college and won a Stock Car Championship on a kind of weekly NASCAR level, kept climbing the ranks. But I had been working towards securing sponsorship for one of the professional levels in NASCAR for years, and 2020 had been my last full season. It was in the Euro NASCAR series, which meant that by the time I came to July 2022, where I was making my XFINITY debut in at the New Hampshire motor speedway, it had been about a year and a half since I had raced like really competitively in a NASCAR series. And it had been almost three years since I had raced on an oval race track. So I knew that although I had proved myself to be a talented racer in the past, like it had been a while so I was probably going to be a little rusty. I knew that everyone else for the most part was competing on a more regular basis. But thank goodness I had that confidence because jumping into the fastest car, the biggest card ever raced with, you know, 37 other drivers who were mostly racing every week in the series with a new team for a distance that I hadn't done before. It was so so much harder than I expected it to be. I mean, and I'm not kidding, guys, I I know that a lot of things in racing had been challenging. But I was shocked as to how insanely difficult it was to jump in for a 20 minute practice session, a one lap qualifying and the race like, thank goodness, I didn't know how hard it was going to be. Because I don't think that I don't know how I would have gotten over that hurdle if I had known how challenging it was going to be. So for context, you know, we arrived at the track, we get the car all set up. And this is Friday. And I knew that I had one 20 minute practice where I was going to have to learn the track. And I'd race at that track before but on in much slower cars. So all my reference points were going to be different in the bigger, faster car. And as soon as we pulled out of pit lane, you know, people were passing me left and right, you know, I was trying to get used to the brakes, I was trying to get used to the acceleration, getting used to how the car feels through the corners, it's kind of flat track. So there wasn't a lot of banking, helping, there are multiple different lines you could take. People set their fastest time in the beginning of the practice, because that's when the tires are most new. And my time was terrible, right. And so I'm trying new things, the whole practice session, I'm trying not to get discouraged by how quickly people are passing me and then pulling away from me, by the end of the practice session, I felt a little bit better. But it was it was not good. Because I didn't have a good time. Like, right, I was somewhere near the back of the pack. And it you know, I didn't give myself that confidence of okay, I know I can get fast but I just I didn't didn't have that in the practice. And so I knew by the time we get to qualifying that I was gonna have to do the part of racing that I am least good at qualifying, mastering that perfect lap. And I knew I had one shot I had one shot to make it, the team didn't necessarily have enough points to guarantee that I'd be in the race. So it really did come down to me. And even though in practice I didn't prove to myself that like on the timesheets that I was fast enough I had to believe I could do it. And my team owner Tommy Joe Martins, he told me that you know, for the most part I was gonna have to brake at least the 2 brake marker so this is just indicators on the fence as to where you are in relation to the to the turn-in and the beginning of the turn. And I knew that the fast guys would be braking you know, closer to the one one and a half but I had to at least Take it to the two marker, because otherwise I would just very blatantly be too slow. So I adopted some blind faith. I was like, All right, I didn't do this once during practice, but I got to try to do because I have this one opportunity in qualifying. And I just held the gas, I was terrified, I held it, I hit the brakes. And the car was going really, really fast into the corner. And I missed some of my entry points, I got super nervous that I was going to hit the wall, I was like, Oh my gosh, oh, shit, like woah my goodness the walls coming up, I was able to get the car turned before I hit the wall. So I only went a little bit wide. But I had clearly missed the entry. And I did not have the optimal line or speed through the corner. And when I think back on this, it's incredible. Incredible, because in that moment, when I had almost missed the corner, within milliseconds, I had this whole conversation with myself, I was like Julia, you have one shot to make it. Julia, you gotta go, you've missed that. But you're still rolling, you still have speed, get the car rotated, get back in the gas and keep going. And again, this whole conversation with myself happened in milliseconds. And by the time my spotter had come on and said, Keep digging, keep digging, I was already in the mindset, like, Yes, I'm gonna go make this race, I'm going to make it in, I was a little more conservative, going into turn three, I made it I was, you know, got through the corner. There were no other mistakes. But I just you know, I had to pick it up, and I had to do it. And let me tell you coming off the track and waiting for everyone else to go through qualifying to confirm that my time was fast enough to make it was an incredibly agonizing amount of time. And, you know, I had known that I had messed up a little bit, but I was also really proud that I collected myself and after so many years of not really having regular high pressure racing experience, I got it back together. And let me tell you, I never knew that I could be so proud of qualifying 32nd place. But the reality is that I had done it, I had done a very hard thing I had made it into the race, I was really proud of that performance. You know, the race didn't go anywhere near as well as I would have hoped. But these things happen. But it takes me back to what I mentioned earlier that the pride of knowing you tackled something, and gave it your all and challenged yourself and, you know, improvise when you needed to and adjusted when you needed to. Especially if it works out it is so, so satisfying. And I want all of you guys to be proud of yourself as much as possible, because it's such a cool feeling. Right? And yeah, it was just it was a really great reminder that that we can do hard things. And so for a succinct and concise summary. Once again, we can do hard things. And there are a lot of benefits to doing hard things. They are doing hard things is tied to our mood. And so if we find ourselves not feeling good, we can try to improve our mood and build our optimism and our self belief so that we're more likely to tackle these hard things so that we can grow as people we can find new strengths and you know, work on weaknesses, and trying to live the most fulfilling life that we can. So that's our show. Thank you for letting me be honest with you. If you liked this episode, please share it with someone else who might also like it. Please leave review rate the podcast share on social media, and I look so forward to seeing you next week.