by Dirk Beveridge, UnleashWD,

What Does It Mean When We Get To Choose Our Hard?

“Don’t be seduced by the easy.”

For years I have been drawn to this core belief of Joe Nettemeyer, President and CEO of Valin Corp. When Joe was a guest on my Innovate for the Future podcast, Joe explained why this had become a foundational leadership principle he’s instilled throughout his organization:

“What we’ve been seduced by has been a long history of traditional significant growth. We could just ride the wave. It wasn’t important to lead, it was just important to service what was rolling through the door. Now, we have to create demand, not just service demand, and that takes a different thought process. It’s really challenging, and a lot of people don’t want the challenge. They’ve gotten seduced by the easy.”

Now here is the thing, Joe finishes his thought with this gem:

“But there is opportunity in not being seduced by the easy.”

I believe there is greatness in overcoming what I call the “healthy struggle.”

When you think about it, you accept this struggle every day. Where you are at, wherever you are at in your life at this moment, you have a 100% batting average at getting through the struggle of life.

And again, I find beauty in this.

Professional athletes embrace the hard and come out victorious.

Parents, every day, choose to do the hard with love and commitment.

Musicians struggle for days on end in the studio and emerge with a 3-minute crowd pleaser.

I did five Ironman triathlons in years past, by choice. That was hard.

Leaders, just like you, are embracing the hard right now as supply chains, labor shortages, and inflation are ratcheting up the challenge.

Yes, life is a challenge. But there is beauty and power in the struggle.

And I don’t know about you, but at times I feel myself being seduced by the easy. My effort loses its intensity. My focus becomes clouded. My mind and body look for a way out.

It’s in these moments of exhaustion, when I’m maybe not as focused on my work as I should be or exercise like I should, a reminder from Vince Lombardi plays over and over in my head.

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
— Vince Lombardi

I remember mulling this over one day after a grueling workout, feeling worn out and physically zapped. It was in the lobby of a Crossfit gym that a young, strapping guy asked me how it went.

When I told him it was a particularly hard class, he said, “It never gets easier.”

WHAT! It never gets easier! What did I sign up for!

On the surface, what he said could be viewed as a negative. How, in my right mind, am I supposed to keep showing up when it’s always going to be this hard? But then it struck me, the beauty in his simple statement. I realized it was hard because I pushed myself to the limits of my comfort zone — to the limits of my strength and my capabilities.

And there it is – the intersection of struggle and transformation.

With each embrace of the healthy struggle, you expand your comfort zone, become stronger and find a new edge. You become empowered. You realize that tomorrow, using all of your newfound strength (and then some), you move farther out of your comfort zone.

It really is beautiful, isn’t it? The fact that it never gets easier.

It doesn’t get easier because you keep finding new ways to improve and uplevel yourself. We are given endless opportunities to grow, develop and improve.

We get to choose our hard.

And there is beauty in that!

We always want to be better. We want to push ourselves to our limits. It’s what drives us to be better parents, better friends, better partners and better leaders.

It’s the same with our businesses.

If you listen to forward-thinking people like Tom Gale, CEO of Modern Distribution Management (MDM), we are on the cusp of a new renaissance in distribution.

Opportunity In Hard

Recently, Tom joined me on an Unapologetic LinkedIn Live session to discuss the challenges faced by distributors as well as opportunities that are waiting to be seized. We flashed back to a conference we both attended: Tom was presenting, and I was the emcee. Tom was talking about the need for distributors to integrate analytics and data into their market strategy.

He acknowledged how hard it is for distributors to embrace that.

After he left the stage, I turned to the audience:

“I think you missed the most important part of what Tom said. He said, ‘This is hard, there is no simple answer.’ And because it’s hard to do, this is also your greatest opportunity. When something is hard to do, there’s a good chance your competitors WON’T do it.”

It’s time to seize that opportunity and do something BIG with it.

Tom explained his idea that distributors are about to enter a renaissance came from a conversation he had with Al Bates, a well-known leader in distribution profitability for over 40 years.

“Al talks about cycles, and this is a cycle we are in right now. The big guys put more feet on the street. They have the resources to invest in digital. The smaller guys scramble and try to save cash. Al’s point was this cycle is a prime time for opportunity.”

A much-needed shift needs to happen – from a reactive mode that worked for a long time to one where distributors must be willing to proactively rethink their business models. Much like Joe shared on the podcast I mentioned above.

Tom went on to say:

“Distributors are in a perfect place to be that trusted advisor and guide their customers but at the same time create a ton of value for their suppliers and form real partnerships.”

Now is the time for nimble distributors to turn constraints into catalysts. Attack that “hard factor” head on. Let the challenge fuel you.

It’s a reminder to myself as I get ready to embark on Season 2 of We Supply America.


The first season of the We Supply America tour was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my career. As I get ready to leave on the next leg of this tour in just 9 days, I’m realizing something else.

I thought this second go-round would be easier because I have the plan, the experience and a model that works.

What I’m learning is the opposite. Now, I have bigger expectations for myself and this experience.

There are easier ways to make a living, with less risk. There are ways to make an impact without leaving my family for months.

But then I think, it’s the Why that matters. The Why has to be strong. And it is.

We all need to be reminded of our Why when we are in the trenches — when we are overcome by fatigue. And we need that loving and firm reminder that to succeed sometimes we have to embrace the hard.

It’s not in us to be seduced by easy.

We get to choose our hard.

Keep leading, those in your world being seduced by easy need you now more than ever before!

Source: Weekly Newsletter from Dirk Beveridge on 05/22/22, The Story #7: Do you choose hard?