Do Hard Things – A Review
American teenagers are so beset with low expectations and negative stereotypes that adolescence has come to be viewed as a second childhood rather than as a bridge to adulthood. In the book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectation, Alex and Brett Harris seek to inspire a “rebelution” against doing what is easy, against settling for mediocrity. In a culture where the average teenager spends roughly seven and a half hours on media consumption every day, the Harris brothers want to see their generation do great things.
During the summer of 2005, Alex and Brett found that without school and debate to keep them busy they had a hard time knowing what to do with themselves. Seeing that they needed direction, their father gave them a list of books for summer reading. Many of the books focused on the adolescent’s role in modern society, and the Harris brothers began to see that there might be something seriously wrong with their generation. In the past, youth had been expected to be valuable members of society, to contribute something meaningful to their community and to live with purpose. Now, the most expected from teens is that they do their homework and a few chores.
The Harris brothers knew that there had to be more to the teen years than goofing off and making beds. If teenagers are the next generation of leaders, shouldn’t we be preparing to lead now? They decided to start a blog, The Rebelution, to share their thoughts with their peers. Posting articles like “The Myth of Adolescence” and “The Rise of the Kidult,” Alex and Brett quickly developed a wide readership. In fact, their blog exploded in popularity, becoming one of the most heavily read teen blogs on the Internet.
Because there was so much interest in what they had to say, the boys decided to repackage their message into a book, a sort of training manual on how to live a positively counter-cultural lifestyle. They assure us that it can be done; after all, it was done by teenagers before. The Harris brothers explain the expectations for youth of the past and reveal how we have been manipulated out of meaningful roles, transformed from a demographic of producers into frenzied consumers. Laying out a plan for how adolescents can reclaim their respectability and sense of purpose, they list the five different kinds of hard things that youth can aim to accomplish:
- Things that are outside your comfort zone.
- Things that go beyond what is expected or required.
- Things that are too big to accomplish alone.
- Things that don’t earn an immediate payoff.
- Things that challenge the cultural norm.
The rest of the book expounds upon how teens can rise to meet these goals. With project ideas, success stories, and motivational writing, Alex and Brett encourage their readership to throw off the shackles of mediocrity that culture has placed upon them. Do Hard Things is more than just another Christian self-help book. It is an honest, inspirational, and heartfelt call to teenagers to do more and be more in their society, to use their abilities and hidden potential to make an impact for God.