On Hard Tasks

Mount Rainier with the Carbon River

One of the views of Rainier only visible by foot

This last weekend I went on my first backpacking trip, a few days hiking around Mt. Rainier National Park. It was a wonderful trip, and I’m definitely hooked on backpacking, despite it including some of the hardest physical things that I have ever done.

That seeming contradiction of an experience being rewarding and being very difficult at the same time reminded me of interactions that I had with a supervisor a while back. When asking me to do a task for her, would often preface her requests with “Don’t do this if it’s hard, but…” I was always unsure of how to respond to these request, mostly feeling that we had some philosophical differences about the value of difficulty.

My thoughts are that most tasks worth doing are going to be difficult at some point, especially when the task is new or requires learning a new skill. As much as these tasks may be difficult in the short term, they are how we grow as individuals and build strong organizations.

Ultimately, whenever I got one of these requests, I would reply with my estimate of time required to complete the task rather than it’s difficulty, assuming that the time – and thus organizational cost – is what she was looking for in the end anyway.

Like backpacking, bike touring, playing music, and other hard tasks that I’ve taken on, I look forward to more difficult experiences in the future. I hope to continue exploring our world and learning new ways to enjoy my time here.