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THE OFFICIAL DO HARD THINGS STUDY GUIDE D F, If you’re like us, talking with others about what you’re reading helps you decide what you think and how to respond to what a book is saying. is chapter-by- chapter study guide is intended to help you do just that. Use it for personal study, if you wish, but we think it works best in a group. And the best group is one where you’re surrounded by others who care about the same things you do and are ready to put truth into action. Don’t feel you have to process every question. It’s not a test, and as often as not, there’s no one right answer. Also, don’t let our questions limit what you ask or where you go. Ask God to direct your thoughts and decisions. And ask Him for courage—lots of it. Because big ideas are weak ideas if we’re not willing to let them shape how we think and live. So use this study guide to zero in on the ideas, choices, and actions that seem most promising and helpful to you and your friends. en expect great things to happen in your lives as you do hard things for the glory of God! Your Fellow Rebelutionaries, A  B H
CHAPTER ONE: MOST PEOPLE DON’T “We believe our generation is ready to rethink what teens are capable of doing and becoming.” With that statement, the authors set the stage for a discussion about doing things differently. en they identify the unique angle of Do Hard ings: instead of being a book where adults tell teens how to change, it’s a con- versation among teens who are ready to lead the way. Alex and Brett talk briefly about their background and reasons for writing the book. ey want teens to rebel against low expectations and reclaim the full potential of their teen years. Q  D  R: 1) As you read the inside flaps of the book and the first chapter, how did you react to the authors’ talk about change, hard things, and “rebelution”? 2) Usually we try to look to older (hopefully wiser) people for life advice. Do you see any risks when teenagers—in this case, two nineteen year olds—try to persuade other young people to change how they think? On the other hand, what might be some advantages to the authors’ age? 3) “We don’t think ‘average teenagers’ exist, write the twins. Do you feel average? If so, why? Does that ever feel like a good thing? If not, what is it that makes you feel not average? 4) e fictional Dundress monks were well intentioned but unhappy Chris- tians who believed that more misery must mean more holiness. Have you ever thought that? Where do you think that kind of thinking comes from? 5) In what ways do you think popular culture misrepresents what the teen years are for? Can you think of one thing that would change if you and your friends believed—really believed—that low expectations were rip- ping you off?
CHAPTER TWO: THE BIRTH OF A BIG IDEA In this chapter, Alex and Brett tell the story of their journey from being bored teens to being Supreme Court interns, campaign workers, and blog hosts. But before they had new experiences they had new ideas—big ideas like: Our generation is getting robbed! ere has to be more to the teen years than goofing off. Ordinary teens can make a big difference in the world. Young people can handle big responsibilities. With big dreams come big challenges. What teens working together can accomplish is amazing! ey close the chapter by inviting readers to join them in an uprising “against a cul- tural mind-set that twists the purpose and potential of the teen years and threatens to cripple our generation.” Q  D  R: 1) Looking back, do you see a season, a book, or an event that changed what you believe or how you live? If so, talk about it. How are you dif- ferent now? 2) One teen told Alex and Brett, “Everyone I know at school is shackled by low expectations. Could you say the same thing? If so, talk about why. 3) Have you ever found yourself responsible for a task that seemed too big for you to succeed at? If so, what happened? Did that experience turn out to be a bad thing or a good thing in your life? 4) Did you identify with the story of shy Heidi Bentley (pages 19-22)? If so, talk about it. 5) History shows that youth movements against God-established author- ity have generally not amounted to much. How do the authors set their message apart from such movements?
CHAPTER THREE: THE MYTH OF ADOLESCENCE An elephant is an incredibly powerful beast that can be restrained by a piece of twine. (No kidding.) And that powerful animal just might be you, say Alex and Brett. Why? Because teens today buy into “the Myth of Adolescence.” at myth is an assumption that the teen years can’t add up to much and are meant to be spent as some sort of vacation from responsibility. Unfortunately, those low ex- pectations end up trapping and limiting teens for no good reason. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Even the word teenager, the authors point out, is a recent invention. We can choose to live by higher standards. We can leave childish ways behind and grow up. We can decide to do hard things. at, say the twins, is where the Rebelution starts. Q  D  R: 1) Have you ever visited a zoo, seen beautiful and powerful animals caged by glass or bars, and felt that something was terribly wrong? If so, talk about it. Why do you think some teens might identify with a wild but caged bird or animal? 2) Do you think that harmless-sounding lies about the teen years could be holding back both you and other teens you know? Talk about it. 3) What was your reaction to the stories of George, David, and Clarissa (pages 31-32)? Have you ever thought you could accomplish a lot more than you are now? 4) What do your parents expect you to do at home in an average week? Do you deliver? Be honest. How much time and effort does it take to do what’s asked of you? Do you think your parents require too much or too little? 5) Have you ever found yourself behaving very differently—and accom- plishing a lot more—simply because someone expected you to? Describe the experience.
CHAPTER FOUR: A BETTER WAY is chapter starts with the story of Ray, a teen party guy who hasn’t grown up, and isn’t sure he wants to. He’s choosing fun now over the future he says he wants. He’s heading toward what the authors call “a failure to launch.” Why? Because the teen years are like a diving board that, if we land on the right spot, will launch us into our best possible future. If we miss (or don’t even jump), we risk never launching. Most of us know a Ray—a “kidult”—who still hasn’t launched at twenty-five, thirty, or even older. e authors then identify five categories of hard things that promise to deliver high-impact results now and later if we do them. Q  D  R: 1) Do you know a “kidult” like Ray? Describe his or her life. Do you think there’s anything that anyone could say to this “Ray” that would moti- vate him or her to change direction? If so, what? If not, why not? 2) e authors write, “What each of us will become later in life largely depends on what we become now. Do you agree or disagree? What might a mature adult who knows you well say you are becoming? e “strict training” Alex and Brett talk about doesn’t sound appeal- ing at first. But what might be some payoffs from that kind of disci- pline in your life now, and your dreams for your future? 3) 4) Which of the five hard things that the authors list motivates you the most? Why? 5) What are some of the hard things you’ve already done in your life? What were the results? What would you say you learned through these experiences?
CHAPTER FIVE: THAT FIRST SCARY STEP “Life is full of scary things,” write Alex and Brett. Most of us can relate! e prob- lem comes when we let fear or discomfort limit what we attempt or dream for our lives. Most teens are afraid to speak in public, try something new, go somewhere new, or meet new people. Interestingly, all these experience usually turn out posi- tively—or at least give us the most interesting stories. If we’re willing to act in spite of fear, risk failure when necessary, and trust God, our lives will change radically for the better. And we’ll accomplish more than we ever could have imagined. Q  D  R: 1) Would you say that fear of failure or discomfort affects you (a) not at all, (b) a little, (c) often, or (d) all the time? Talk about your answer. 2) Identify the areas in your life where you try hardest to stay in your “cozy little routines. In each case, what negative outcome are you most afraid of? What very positive outcome might come about if you took that first scary step despite your fears? 3) Most of us associate words like faith and courage with positive feelings. But Alex and Brett write that many who choose to act out of faith or courage actually experience intensely negative feelings, such as fear, un- certainty, worry, and doubt. If you have ever made a courageous choice but felt terrible while you were making it, talk about it. What happened? What did you learn? 4) Why might God be able to accomplish more through us when we act in spite of our weaknesses rather than out of our confidence or strength? 5) “Our story started with a simple step into the unknown, Seth Willard says in this chapter. “But by God’s grace, our story has only just begun. As you were reading this chapter, did any thoughts come to mind about a step into the unknown you should or could be taking? If so, what is it?
CHAPTER SIX: RAISING THE BAR What happens when we measure ourselves or our actions against a bar—and that bar is set too low? We might feel good at first, but we’re likely to feel misled and cheated in the long run. In this chapter the twins explore how phrases like “Just do your best” can do more harm than good. Comparisons with how others perform don’t help either. Instead, teens need to reject complacency by choosing values like “Do what’s hard for you,” and “Pursue excellence, not excuses.” Q  D  R: 1) e Bible says, “ e complacency of fools destroys them. Do you think it’s possible to be popular, smart, and successful and still be complacent and foolish? If so, how? 2) Most teens show above-average abilities in at least one area. According to Alex and Brett, what’s the danger of defining ourselves by that one area? 3) “Don’t do bad stuff ” can easily be the default standard of excellence in church circles. Do you see any problem with that? Talk about it. 4) Go through the questions on pages 101 and 102. Talk about your answers. 5) If you decided to measure every area of your life by “excellence, not excuses, what kinds of changes would the people around you start to notice?
CHAPTER SEVEN: THE POWER OF COLLABORATION Alex and Brett tell the story of Katrina, a girl who had a question she couldn’t fig- ure out on her own. Her commitment to get answers led her to find other teens who could help her—and an online survey that pulled in almost half a million hits in the first twelve hours. Instead of turning away when an idea seems too big for us, the twins argue, teens should turn to collaboration. e fact is, when we work with a team of like-minded rebelutionaries, we can do together what we could never have done alone. e chapter suggests ten practical things the brothers have learned working with teams. Q  D  R: 1) Have you ever cared a lot about a project only to drop it because you couldn’t do it alone? If so, talk about that. What might have happened differently if you’d had a team around you to help accomplish that goal? 2) Have you ever experienced the extra energy or impact a team can gener- ate—in sports, drama, or some other setting? If so, what was it like? 3) Alex and Brett talk about how important it is for teens to “walk with the wise. What do they mean by this principle, and why does it matter? 4) All of us have been on some kind of team: sports, academic, community, church, or work. What, in your experience, makes the good ones terrific and the bad ones miserable? 5) As you were reading this chapter, did a “too big for just me” but important goal come to mind? How could you act on that thought or desire? (Hint: Begin with the first thing the authors learned about teams: “Start with questions. )
CHAPTER EIGHT: SMALL HARD THINGS Why is it that following through on small tasks can be such a huge chore? Alex and Brett wrestle with that question in this chapter for a good reason: although small hard things trouble everyone, they often they lead to some of the biggest payoffs. Many long- term successes are built on life skills that come from doing small hard things—self-dis- cipline, honesty, consistency, thoughtfulness—and doing them repeatedly over a long period of time. e authors point to the Vikings as an example of powerful seamen who nearly always defeated their enemies in battle. eir success was partly due to one simple fact: they rowed their own boats into battle and were seriously ripped! Q  D  R: 1) Have you ever felt like Joanna—“ready and motivated to tackle something big and exciting, but stuck against your will in a seemingly endless round of chores”? If so, talk about it. Why do you think small hard things can be so hard for teens? 2) What are the small hard things you struggle with most? Describe some of the self-talk that goes on in your head that makes doing those tasks even harder. On pages 135-137, the authors identify the top five reasons why doing small 3) tasks is so hard, as well as five ways we tend to respond in not-so-rebelution- ary ways. Talk about the five reasons and come up with a rebelutionary re- sponse to each. 4) How could doing everything for God’s glory (see 1 Corinthians 10:31) radically influence how you think about and complete small hard things? 5) See what you come up with in response to this three-step suggestion from page 143: “Do you have a big goal for your life that you can’t achieve without a com- mitment to small hard things? (1) Write down your big goal. en (2) write out the small hard things that help you achieve it—and (3) how faithfully do- ing those small hard things now will help you achieve your dream later.
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