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September 27, 2011

Is your work hard or challenging? Don’t ever say hard (it’s a weasel word)!

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Ted Cuzzillo over at datadoodle posted an intriguing cliche on his latest blog postTed said “Simple is hard.”

I immediately recalled a conversation we’ve had with our kids and their Target teachers (Target is the gifted program in Georgia).  In the Target classrooms, the students are not permitted to say something is “hard”; they say that it’s “challenging”.  This struck me as a bit revolutionary in the use of those two words.  Many of use them interchangeably, but should we?

Definitions (limited to those that pertain to this conversation):

1. difficult to do or accomplish; fatiguing; troublesome: a hard task.
2. difficult to deal with, manage, control, overcome, or understand: a hard problem.

1. offering a challenge;  testing one's ability, endurance, etc: a challenging course; a challenging game.
2. stimulating, interesting, and thought-provoking: a challenging suggestion.
3. provocative; intriguing: a challenging smile.

Read them again. I find the subtle differences fascinating.  My “work” is incredibly challenging, but is it hard?  I love that I get to test my abilities everyday.  My work is stimulating, thought-provoking and intriguing.  Why would I ever say it’s hard?  Maybe that’s why I don’t see my work as “work”.  It’s fun and it’s CHALLENGING.  The challenge is what makes it fun.

At our house we have a couple of weasel words: hard and try.  We do our best to never use these two words because, in our opinion, they’re cop out words.

Think about this when you say something is hard.  Are you convincing yourself that the task can’t be done? 

When you say you’ll try to do something, do you really mean it?  How about saying “I’ll do my best”?

Change your vocabulary and see how it impacts your performance.

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