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January 15, 2021

Struggle and Progress

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Let's provide a different perspective on how we can approach challenges. The very nature of something being a challenge means that you need to apply extra effort in order to achieve the end goal. When something is challenging then you make progress at a slower rate, which might not appear to be worth the investment. Oftentimes, we view this pursuit as a struggle. I think that word has a negative label and I want to explore the reason why because I think there’s a lot of power in struggle.

My friend and mentor Daron Roberts puts it best - “No struggle, no progress.” That might seem like it contradicts what I just said, but he’s referring to a different kind of progress, which is within your personal growth. When you are struggling more is being asked of you, you must apply extra effort, and that process facilitates growth. Struggle causes you to strengthen and raise your capacity moving forward.

This thought comes from a number of different angles. In “Grit” Angela Duckworth says applying effort is the mechanism of turning talent into achievement. Anders Ericsson in "Peak" talks about deliberate practice, and how one fundamental element of it is to introduce challenge. Struggle should not solely be viewed as oppression, it should also be viewed as a catalyst.

In fact, some of the great oppressions of history - People of color in America, jews and antisemitism, women in the workplace - Have created some of the strongest and most resilient populations we know. And that’s because struggle is directly related to progress.

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