Run Towards Hard
It’s 5:30 am, and the alarm on my phone won’t stop ringing. I’m in Washington DC, and my freezing cold surroundings are a far cry from the beautiful weather I’m accustomed to from living outside LA. I pull the blackout shades open, expecting the pitch black room to light up. Instead, it somehow makes it worse.
I meet up with a few friends and stumble outside of the hotel, desperately squinting at Google Maps on my phone. I have an awful sense of direction (not joking — I’ve gotten lost inside supermarkets), and the trek from my hotel to the hotel the morning jog will be leaving from seems unmanageable. To make matters worse, my friends are following me, and this early it seems every street in DC is more or less the same. After a few minutes of confusion, I finally orient myself and arrive at the hotel of departure.
Why did I feel the need to go jogging at 6am? I’m not at all athletic, and on any other day an early morning jog would be anathema to me. To (sort of) quote from the recent Passover Seder: What made this morning different from all other mornings?
It goes back to one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received: To run towards hard (in this case, literally). I was given the advice in the context of political lobbying, but I’ve found it applicable to every aspect of my life — tech, non-profit work, and yes, politics. It boils down to this: people appreciate hard work, and they appreciate visibly hard work even more. What’s easy to do is easy to forget, but what’s hard to do is impossible to forget.
Living life by running towards hard is difficult by definition; going the extra mile becomes standard operating procedure. But everywhere I look, those that run towards hard seem to be the most competent and the most successful. They’re the best employees — they take an extra interest in their work and the world around them and generate the new ideas that are the lifeblood of any organization. When I think of the ideal entrepreneur, I find myself thinking of someone who understands the value of what’s hard to do.
So much of our culture now glorifies taking shortcuts, to the point where hack — both the word and idea — have increasingly crossed over into the mainstream. And while shortcuts can be helpful in many respects, I’ve found that when it comes to building relationships, it pays to put in the work.
I woke up that morning not just to jog, but to build a relationship — to begin to learn from someone of immense knowledge and value. Since then, I’ve made an effort in all my relationships to run towards hard and to put in visible effort, and it’s paid massive dividends.