Title: Do Hard Things: A teenage rebellion against low expectations
Author: Alex and Brett Harris
Date I Finished Reading: February 21,2013
My Rating: 5/5
WARNING: If you do not want to be challenged or inspired to step out of your comfort zone and do something, then keep on walking, 'cause that is what this book is gonna do! Do Hard Things is the perfect book for our generation on rebelling against low expectations, and doing something hard, whether it is big or small.
I absolutely loved this book_ and needed it too! Alex and Brett discuss very practical, very true points. They speak on things that keep us from striving towards and achieving big things, whether that is lies within the culture and media, or our own pride or fear. They explain to us where our mindsets are wrong, and how WE, teenagers can truly accomplish something amazing, whether it is ourselves individually, or us as a team. One point that I really needed was the reminder and encouragement to keep on doing the small hard things, cheerfully. They say that small things, such as chores, homework, and repetitive, even mundane duties help to strengthen us and to prepare us for the bigger hard things to come.
Alex and Brett did an amazing job on this book. They use humor, personal examples, and also the examples of others to encourage teenagers to stand up and step out. The book was actually fun to read.
I would say that I DEFINITELY recommend this book. Every teenager out there needs to read this and be motivated and encouraged to Do Hard Things.
Note: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. However, my opinions are my own.
I won't lie; this book took a bit to get into. The nineteen year old twin boys who wrote this begin with an introduction to the general idea of "Doing Hard Things" and this is all well and good. However, they then go on to discuss all of their accomplishments, and this left me with the distinct impression that they were teens who had been born into a textbook family, encouraged in all they did, and given everything on a silver platter. That impression left me dubious of the authors' ability to inspire any teens who hadn't been born into nuclear situations and skeptical of their real world experience. As the book goes on; however, this impression fades, and I came to respect the authors for their experience and commitment, but this is the reason that I had a difficult time becoming immersed in the book.
Once readers get over the initial bad taste of the first few chapters, it becomes apparent that the authors of the book do know what they are talking about. There is an ample amount of scripture successfully integrated with the instructions, and they consistently use bible stories to emphasize their points. Do Hard Things to the Harris brothers means overcoming fears and hesitations so as to glorify God more, and they mainly express their ideas in true stories of other so called "rebolutionaries." The authors assert that society's expectations of adolescents set the bar far too low, and it should be the goal of all teens to rise above settling into unchallenging and uninspiring lifestyles. They share stories of massive political campaigns run by teenagers, of online initiatives that spiraled into ground breaking Christian social experiments, and of shy or unmotivated teens who broke free from their shells and blossomed into productive young adults. Overall, this method of story-telling works well in the goal of inspiring youth. The Harris brothers emphasize that the teens in the stories are just normal kids who decided that society's average is far too low. By doing this, the book invokes a sense of unity in a reader-the sense of "If they can do it, so can I."
One chapter in particular stood out to me as an all-star. The chapter entitled Small Hard Things discussed the daily tasks that seem repetitive, pointless, and boring. As per the title of the chapter, the Harris brothers label them as Small Hard Things and call teens to focus on them just as much, if not more, than they focus on Big Hard Things. For parents, this chapter might be a Godsend. It's all well and good to have kids running campaigns and witnessing to friends, but it's not worth much if they won't clean their rooms and help around the house. This chapter explains that the daily tasks build the discipline and character needed to do the big things that the rest of the book calls for, and is a perfectly written chapter.
Overall, I would recommend Do Hard Things for any adolescent eleven or older. The language of the book is simple and it is perhaps aimed more for younger teens, but older teens can get just as much from the stories and advice given within. 4 out of 5 stars.
Complacency is an epidemic and this book is a first step toward treatment.
This book flows like a conversation, holds interest with humor and numerous quotations, motivates readers to take an honest self-evaluation and equips by providing step-by-step solutions for you to personalize according to your situation that have already been tried and proven beneficial by others.
What more can I say?
After launching their website TheRebelution.com with great success, Alex and Brett Harris wrote "Do Hard Things" with this attitude [pgs 7-8] :
We are not telling you to do pointless (or stupid) hard things just because they're hard. ... What we are doing is challenging you to grab hold of a more exciting option for your teen years than the one portrayed as normal in society today. This option has somehow gotten lost in our culture, and most people don't even know it.
Written by two homeschooled twin teen boys, this book could easily be overlooked as being "just for teens." On the contrary, I feel this book is appropriate for everyone ages 13+ to read, and it should be immediately placed in the top 10 recommended reads for parents of tweens/teens, as well as anyone who works with youth. In the foreword, Chuck Norris points out, "In the past, young people were expected to make significant contributions to society. Today, our culture expects very little from teens-- not much more than staying in school and doing a few chores. A sad consequence of such low expectations is that life-changing lessons go unlearned."
I found this book to be inspirational, containing ideas and concepts which gave me a more accurate perception of my own preconceived notions, areas I need to strengthen my character, talents I had forgotten or disregarded, and relationships that require care and pruning. I can't imagine anyone regretting taking the time to read this treasure which is sure to become a reference book to many.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I wasn't obligated to write a positive review, the opinions are mine.
Every once in awhile I come across a book that just makes sense; Do Hard Things is one such book. I knew something was off in our "entertain me" culture, but could not put my finger on a realistic solution. The Harris brothers have helped shed a bright light on a tangible solution for teenagers to rise above low expectations. While the book's voice and style is geared towards teenagers, it is also a must-read for parents, teachers, and youth workers alike.
The Harris brothers exhort their peers to rebel against status quo and tap into their God-given potential. "Your actions at home, at school, at church, and elsewhere in your community can bring honor and glory to God if you are willing to throw yourself into them 100 percent just because they're things He has given you to do" (pg. 144). Alex and Brett share practical advice with peers from their personal experiences with this idea. It is noteworthy to mention that the authors discuss how the small things that we are responsible for can be huge things in God's eyes, "Being faithful in the smallest things is the way to gain, maintain and demonstrate the strength needed to accomplish something great (pg. 139).
Throughout this honest and conversational work, Alex and Brett share inspiring examples of teens who are joining the movement as "rebelutionaries" and taking on the challenge of doing hard things: from refusing to compromise integrity on movie choices, to making an impact in modern-day slavery, to attending a refugee-style camp, to helping provide clean water worldwide.
One of the examples that spoke loudly to me was Brittany Lewin's story. At age seventeen she quite amazingly became a campaign manager for a former U.S. congressmen who was running for reelection to the state board of education. I was inspired that this politician gave her the opportunity of a lifetime and took the risk of placing great responsibility on her (may we all be challenged to believe more in our youth and do likewise). I also love Brittany's profound response to her experience, "As much as I love politics and campaigning, there is not a single political job I could find that would match the joy and satisfaction that comes from following God's special call to be a dedicated wife and mother. Campaigns are won and lost; elections happen every year. I can only do so much myself. What's more inspiring to me is the thought of rebelutionaries across the world raising lots of counterculture, God-fearing, low-expectation-defying children who are constantly doing hard things for God's glory" (pg. 198).
This book would make an outstanding "coming of age" or graduation gift. I know even my young children have benefited from me reading this book, as I strive, even know, to raise them to do hard things (no matter how large or small, seen or unseen).