Why are things so hard?
It is one of the great mysteries of life. Why are some things so hard? Why, if some things are meant to be, is it so difficult sometimes to make them happen?
A friend asked me that the other day. Then I, in turn, asked another friend. “Why are some things so hard to overcome? If they’re really meant to be, why would they be so difficult?”
She knew no better than I. She responded, “I don’t know. Some things are just harder to make happen.”
Conventional wisdom will always whisper, “If this were really meant to be, it wouldn’t be so hard.” And that is easy to believe, much easier than working through the difficulties of a situation. That one piece of human reasoning leads too many people to give up on a situation that would have enormous pay-off, if only they stayed the course. But they will say, “It’s just too tough. If this were the right thing to do, it wouldn’t be this hard.”
As I pondered this, I remembered a story told to me by my friend and mentor, Richard Childress, one of NASCAR’s greatest team owners. It is a story little known but it is one that should be legend because of the lesson embedded into it.
It was 1985, one year after Dale Earnhardt had rejoined Richard Childress Racing as the driver of the Number Three car after a two-year run with Bud Moore. Though he won four races, it paled in comparison to the nine races that he did not finish because of engine failure.
They were considered, at best, a mid-level team, capable only of winning when top cars fell out. There was a serious problem in the engine department at RCR and Childress, despite sleepless nights and much mental anguish, could not pinpoint it (turned out to be the lifter boards) and, therefore, could not solve it.
I called Childress on his cell phone the other day. “Take me back to 1985,” I said. “Do you remember the personal anguish of that year?”
“Boy, do I. That was a rough ‘un. The toughest part was knowin’ that I had people dependin’ on me and that I had to figure it out.”
Halfway through the season and 18 months before his contract expired, Childress offered Earnhardt his release.
“You’re a champion and you deserve better than the equipment we’re giving you. Dale said, ‘No, we started this thing together and we’ll finish it together.’ I’ll never forget him saying that.”
Sixteen months after that conversation, the duo, who refused to give up, won the first of six national championships, making history along the way.
“We knew we had the right combination,” Childress said. “So we just had to weather the storm. You can’t just sit back and wait for the storm pass, you have to dance in the rain.”
“After you won the championship, was it scary to think how close you came to splitting up?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah. When times get hard, you have to make a lot of sacrifices to keep things goin’. I always say there’s three kinds of people in the world: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what the heck happened. Now, which one of those people do you want to be?”
So, Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt, who would “finish it together” on a February day during the Daytona 500 after winning almost $40 million together, answered that question: If something is meant to be, why would it be so hard?
Because sometimes it just is. But the bigger the struggles, the greater the pay-off. Remember that.
[Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “What Southern Women Know About Flirting” and “The Town That Came A-Courtin’.” Her newest book is “What Southern Women Know about Faith.” She lives near Gainesville, Ga. Sign up for her weekly newsletter at www.rondarich.com.]