The Blog.

Just try harder? Sounds too much like hard work to me

18 Jun 2010 | Business Life, Personal Productivity

How often do we tell ourselves that we just have to try harder?

Following on from my last post about making the most of our strengths, here are a few thoughts about how we approach those times when we are working in our weaker areas.

In learning to read, our son Oliver gets given a set of words to learn each week. For a while we diligently sat with him every week, encouraging him to keep going, to keep trying, adding an occasional bribe or blackmail into the mix. He found it hard and that was discouraging him. He started saying “I can’t do it”, “it’s too hard” and “I’m rubbish at this.”

The last one really got me. I’ll be damned if any child of mine grows up thinking he’s not good enough. There’s only enough self-deprecating room for one in this family and well I was here first.

So my husband, being the big kid that he is, decided to turn it into a game and incorporated Oliver’s favourite Wii game characters into it – Lego Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Super Mario Galaxy… That changed everything. Suddenly he wanted to do his words. The tables turned and he was pestering us. And surprise surprise, within a few weeks his learning took a giant leap. Something clicked into place, just like that.

Now, it’s “easy peasy lemon squeezy.”

So when something’s hard enough as it is, why do we default to ‘try harder’? Surely there are smarter, more creative ways to tackle it? Rather than be stuck wading through treacle with something that is draining you, why not

Change the rules – do it differently, in a way that utilises your strengths and makes it fun

Change the goalposts – aim for just a tiny improvement, then move on!

Eliminate it – do you HAVE to do it that way to get the results you want?

Partner, employ or outsource it – Teams are well-rounded, people shouldn’t be. Working with people with complementary strengths mean that you can all focus on what you do best, making life easier and having much more fun along the way. Check out wealth dynamics for a fantastic tool to identify your ideal match.

What do you think? Do you default to ‘trying harder’? What creative strategies have made your life easier? Let’s talk about it in the comments box below.


  1. Peggy @ Perfectly Happy Mum

    I agree with you why try harder the same thing when you can change the method and make it work easily?
    Nice one! 🙂

  2. Grace Marshall

    Thanks Peggy! I’m all for making life easier 🙂

  3. Anne

    Oliver’s struggle with reading and your husband’s creativity in reframing the chore into a game reminds me of my friend Doreen’s story. She had the same trouble with her own son when he was very young. She, too, created a game — a treasure hunt. Many years later she developed it and now it’s on the market: uKloo! And it’s a hit. Talk about making lemonade! (And BTW, her son is now grown and is/was an English major in university. Living proof his mum was onto something.)

    • Grace Marshall

      Love it! Fab story, thanks for sharing Anne.

Image if author Grace Marshall

About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

Like what youre reading?

Subscribe and join me in  conversation!

I will never sell your data. You can unsubscribe at any time. Here’s our privacy policy.

Want to  Explore?

Related  Posts

Friends in the Arena

Theodore Roosevelt said, "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest