Do Hard Things: Why We Get Resilience Wrong and the Surprising Science of Real Toughness (Paperback)
"In Do Hard Things, Steve Magness beautifully and persuasively reimagines our understanding of toughness. This is a must-read for parents and coaches and anyone else looking to prepare for life's biggest challenges." -- Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and Talking to Strangers and host of the Revisionist History podcast
From beloved performance expert, executive coach, and coauthor of Peak Performance Steve Magness comes a radical rethinking of how we perceive toughness and what it means to achieve our high ambitions in the face of hard things.
Toughness has long been held as the key to overcoming a challenge and achieving greatness, whether it is on the sports field, at a boardroom, or at the dining room table. Yet, the prevailing model has promoted a mentality based on fear, false bravado, and hiding any sign of weakness. In other words, the old model of toughness has failed us.
Steve Magness, a performance scientist who coaches Olympic athletes, rebuilds our broken model of resilience with one grounded in the latest science and psychology. In Do Hard Things, Magness teaches us how we can work with our body – how experiencing discomfort, leaning in, paying attention, and creating space to take thoughtful action can be the true indications of cultivating inner strength. He offers four core pillars to cultivate such resilience:
- Pillar 1- Ditch the Façade, Embrace Reality
- Pillar 2- Listen to Your Body
- Pillar 3- Respond, Instead of React
- Pillar 4- Transcend Discomfort
Smart and wise all at once, Magness flips the script on what it means to be resilient. Drawing from mindfulness, military case studies, sports psychology, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy, he provides a roadmap for navigating life’s challenges and achieving high performance that makes us happier, more successful, and, ultimately, better people.
About the Author
Steve Magness is a world-renowned expert on performance, coauthor of Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox, and the author of The Science of Running. He is the co-host of two podcasts: The Growth Equation podcast, with Brad Stulberg, and On Coaching with Magness and Marcus, with Jon Marcus. He has written for Runner’s World and Sports Illustrated, and he has been featured in The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Men’s Health, The Guardian, Business Insider, and ESPN The Magazine, and he has been featured on NPR and CNN International. Magness has served as a consultant and speaker for NASA, the Houston Rockets, Murphy Oil, the Brooklyn Nets, the Cleveland Guardians, the Seattle Sounders, the New Orleans Pelicans, Athletics New Zealand, Canadian Athletics, New Zealand High Performance, and more. He lives in Houston, Texas.
"In Do Hard Things, Steve Magness beautifully and persuasively reimagines our understanding of toughness. This is a must-read for parents and coaches and anyone else looking to prepare for life's biggest challenges." — Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and Talking to Strangers and host of the Revisionist History podcast
“A welcome alternative to the traditional emphasis on ‘pushing through.’ Informative and entertaining, this has the power to help readers go the extra mile.” — Publishers Weekly
“For too long, we have lauded stories of coaches and leaders who practice the ‘weed-out’ school of toughness—subject a bunch of people to something unpleasant, and those who survive must have become high performers because of it. While those stories have grown in prominence, the body of scientific research has grown in a different direction, indicating that fortitude is not a trait that magically grows under extreme duress, but rather a skill that can slowly but surely be cultivated. It is time to bring the stories in line with the research, and I think Steve Magness is perfectly positioned to do just that.” — David Epstein, New York Times bestselling author of Range and The Sports Gene
"Steve delivers a critical message for our current age of posing and performance: real toughness is not about callous bravado, but instead about the ability to navigate difficulty with grace and an unwavering focus on what matters."
— Cal Newport, New York Times bestselling author of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism
“Steve Magness is one of the giants of modern thinking about high performance across domains, blending a broad knowledge of cutting-edge psychology with hard-earned practical experience from the world-class athletes and other experts he coaches. In his new book, he takes on an age-old question—who triumphs, and why, when the going gets tough?—and reveals that many of our cherished instincts and assumptions are wrong. A crucial read for anyone who cares about delivering their best when the stakes are highest.” — Alex Hutchinson, New York Times bestselling author of Endure
"Do Hard Things will change your mind about what it means to be tough. Steve Magness makes a beautiful and compelling case for the value of inner strength over outer strength and humility over bluster. A must read!” — Annie Duke, author of Thinking in Bets
“Steve Magness possesses an incredible range of wisdom and knowledge about the science, psychology and practical sides of sport performance. Do Hard Things is a master class in how to develop resilience, persistence and confidence under pressure.” — Christie Aschwanden, New York Times bestselling author of Good to Go
"A must-read book on a timely and timeless topic, written by the perfect person to explore what it actually means to be tough. Steve's been thinking about these issues for years, and this book presents a fascinating and, more importantly, extremely helpful new perspective on toughness and how to build it." — Brad Stulberg, bestselling author of The Practice of Groundedness and Peak Performance
"Steve Magness has established himself as a leading voice in performance optimization and achieving one's personal bestness, arete as the Greek's say. In Do Hard Things, Magness questions longstanding beliefs that toughness is developed through hubris and infallibility. What he reveals is both hopeful and reassuring. Do Hard Things is essential reading for anyone looking to cultivate inner strength in a genuine and authentic way." — Dean Karnazes, ultramarathoner and New York Times bestselling author
"Do Hard Things is an incredibly deep and completely new approach that examines why and how people overcome the toughest situations. Explaining different stories in a very entertaining lecture for the readers, Steve Magness, one of the most recognized authors and thinkers in sports science, gives us a master class on how to develop resilience and skills to perform at our best in difficult situations." — Kilian Jornet, author of Above the Clouds
"In Do Hard Things, Steve Magness dismantles the widely endorsed but damaging suggestion that toughness is about bulldozing your way through difficult situations. Magness' version of toughness—"real toughness"—is more nuanced, forgiving, flexible, and learnable. Real toughness means processing stressors thoughtfully, deliberately, and with vulnerability, rather than superficially and rigidly. Do Hard Things changed how I think about stoicism and strength, both on the sports field and more broadly, and I can't recommend it highly enough." — Adam Alter, Professor of Marketing and Psychology, New York University Stern School of Business and New York Times bestselling author of Irresistible and Drunk Tank Pink
“A thoughtful examination of what it really means to have the right stuff.” — Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
“We're past the days of ‘no pain, no gain.’ Steve Magness, elite running coach and performance guru, on what toughness looks like now.” — GQ