Deep Scene Breakdown, “The Hard Is What Makes It Great”

Deep Scene Breakdown, “The Hard Is What Makes It Great” April 21, 2024

If you haven’t seen A League of Their Own, you need to.

It’s based on the true circumstances of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) that existed from 1943 to 1954. There is one very memorable scene when one of the players and team’s leaders plans to quit the team the moment her husband returns from the war – specifically right before the championship game. In a classic scene, he challenges her not with her life decision to move on from baseball but to leave the game and her team on these terms.

This quote regularly comes to mind:

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

There’s so much going on in this line. I wrote earlier on Theodore Roosevelt On a Life Lived Well who urged us that “nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”

It’s tough to deny that the adversity we face that makes us grow and gives us perspective. To be exceptional is indeed to be the exception. Epictetus’ Wresting Analogy For Adversity as Character Formation comes to mind when he reminds us that “the true man is revealed in difficult times” and that adversity can be the ultimate crucible – and lays down the analogy:

“So when trouble comes, think of yourself as a wrestler whom God, like a trainer, has paired with a tough young buck. For what purpose? To turn you into Olympic-class material. But this is going to take some sweat to accomplish. From my perspective, no one’s difficulties ever gave him a better test than yours, if you are prepared to make use of them the way a wrestler makes use of an opponent in peak condition.”

Indeed, it’s the hard that makes us great. Like running a marathon, if everyone did it, it wouldn’t be great. Seneca makes a similar point on unhappiness and urges us that “no man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity for he is not permitted to prove himself.” We prove ourselves through great feats and grow through the difficulty – and betray our potential in avoiding it.

Bruce Lee challenged us that glory is achieved in the aim of greatness. Failure is far from the crime (as “in great attempts it is glorious even to fail), but “low aim is the crime.” Achieving our potential should be hard – and there is rarely growth found in what’s comfortable. Ideas, muscle, and character are strengthened through resistance and adversity.

Perhaps this is why David Goggins urges us to “stay hard”. He reminds us that the “only way you gain mental toughness is to do things you’re not happy doing. If you continue doing things that you’re satisfied and make you happy, you’re not getting stronger.” In short, “the only way to get tougher is to put yourself in hellacious situations.”

For Roosevelt, it’s not worthy with effort, pain, or difficulty – as worthy requires earning. And from Goggins to Lee to the Stoic philosophers, we’re reminded that we grow and reach our potential only when we are uncomfortable.

Staying hard is key as it’s the hard that makes us great.

Photo by Mārtiņš Zemlickis on Unsplash

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