Book Review “Do Hard Things”

Book: “Do Hard Things”

Subtitle: a teenager rebellion against low expectations

Authors: Alex & Brett Harris

Published by Multnomah Books, 2008


General Overview:

Chapter 1: Most People Don’t (A different kind of teen book) A great introduction to the idea that most teenagers have incredible freedom but not much responsibility. It raises the idea that our culture is facilitating a lie about the purpose and potential of the teen years and the low expectations that society has of teenagers.

Chapter 2: The Birth of a Big Idea (Rumblings of a rebelution) Alex and Brett’s reflections on how they started on this journey & the incredible opportunities they were offered.

Chapter 3: The Myth of Adolescence (Exposing the low expectations that are robbing our generation) Great chapter. I am so glad my daughter and I read this chapter together. It explained that laws were changed around the turn of the century (1900’s) to protect children from harsh labour and to help raise the age for finishing education. By doing this, it unknowingly introduced ‘adolescence’ to the western world, a time for freedom without responsibility. The chapter looked at 3 people who, when they were twelve to sixteen years old, achieved amazing results. Clara Burton (founded the Red Cross), George Washington (Official Surveyor of frontier land, at 16 becoming a Major in the Army, later becoming the first President of U.S.A) and David Farragut (given command of a U.S. Ship at age 12, later becoming the U.S. Navy’s first admiral).

Chapter 4: A Better Way (Reclaiming the teen years as the launching pad of life) This chapter begins with negative examples of teenage living, followed by five kinds of hard.

  1. Things that are outside your comfort zone.
  2. Things that go beyond what is expected or required.
  3. Things that are too big to accomplish alone.
  4. Things that don’t earn an immediate payoff.
  5. Things that challenge the cultural norm.


Chapter 5: That First Scary Step  (How to do hard things that take you outside your comfort zone)Basically helping you realise that the first step is often the hardest and that courage is not the absence of fear.

Chapter 6: Raising the Bar (How to do hard things that go beyond what’s expected or required) This is an important chapter on overcoming complacency and encouraging you to pursue excellence not excuses.

Chapter 7: The Power of Collaboration (How to do hard things that are too big for you to do alone) This chapter encouraged people to join together to achieve results. It also discussed how your own family can be the most powerful ally in assisting you in your quest to achieve something. Don’t be afraid to ask or to admit you can’t do it on your own. It also looked at some creative ways of enlisting help.

Chapter 8: Small Hard Things (How to do hard things that don’t pay off immediately) Small hard things can be more difficult sometimes as they don’t seem to be important or to make any difference or they are not glamorous and usually no-one is watching. Thus, we can slip into the habits of procrastination, inconsistency, compromise, or cheating.

Chapter 9: Taking a Stand (How to do hard things that go against the crowd) A chapter looking at what defines you and how going against the flow is not popular but are you still prepared to do it.

Chapter 10: Generation Rising (Creating a counterculture from scratch) Character, collaboration, competence.

Chapter 11: A Thousand Young Heroes (Stories of new beginnings, impossible challenges, and the teens who are living them) Read about 12 year old Zach who launched ‘Loose Change to Loosen Chains’ a campaign to raise money and awareness for the fight against modern day slavery. Plus other inspiring stories of teens who are doing hard things.

Chapter 12: World, Meet Your Rebelutionaries (Transforming your mission from a decision into a destiny) Encouraging teens to break their dreams/goals into manageable action steps and how to go about this.

Things I loved about this book: I love that this was initiated by teenagers and not an adult imposing it on teenagers. I also love that it is hard, though do-able. It really makes sense.

Negatives: I wonder what would have happened if the boys (authors) weren’t given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to intern at the Alabama State Court. Would it all have been just hype & great ideas?

What have we done as a result of reading this book? To begin with, we dramatically increased the kids chores and the way they helped around the house. Secondly, we heard about a great opportunity to assist kids in Cambodia. Apparently books are very scarce in Cambodia. When Pol Pot was in power and killed educated people, he also tried to destroy all the means of people becoming educated, thus most of the books were burnt/destroyed. Apparently schools and universities are desperate for English books to fill their empty bookshelves in their libraries. The Cambodian Government has decreed that English will be the language for education. Thus, our family decided to give this a go as doing a “hard thing”. We had never done anything like his before. Where do you start? How do you ship a container load of books from Australia to Cambodia? Where do you get the books from? How much would it cost?

 That very day, Princess (aged 10), spent time researching the cost of buying versus hiring a shipping container, what size container, cost of book boxes and how many needed, how many books would fit in a shipping container and the cost of transporting it from church to a port in Cambodia. She also looked at the cost and feasibility of printing bookmarks for every book in multicolours that could have a prophetic message on them that her age group at church could design. Apparently approximately 17,000 books will fit into a twenty foot shipping container whilst 37,000 books fit into a forty foot container. Our contact has pushed for the forty foot container. It is really not much more expensive for the larger container plus it means that it can be used as a house for a Cambodian family after it is emptied.

Within a week, we had numerous contacts in the shipping container industry, been in contact with a librarian who is changing her school library to a digital learning centre and needing to dispose of many books. This librarian has been thinking about getting together a number of librarians in this state to work together. Could this be part of her strategy? Our kids also go to a kids club at the church around the corner from where we live. The leader of this group personally buys and organises for seven shipping containers to be filled and sent to various towns in the Pacific nations with books, toys, clothes, kindergarten material, household items etc. This lady and her husband are a mine of information for the six different forms that have to be filled in before your container even reaches the port of Melbourne, let alone leaves it.

Now, we just need to buy the container, obtain 37,000 children’s books, text books, and university books, pack them and send the container. Is it do-able?

A month later, Princess has written 26 letters to removalist firms and school librarians, we have been given nearly 2,000 books, 200 book boxes to pack them in and an experienced person to buy the container and arrange shipping. Slowly we are making progress.

Recommend for: I consider this book essential reading for every teenager and older child. I read a chapter every few nights with my ten year old daughter (we read it aloud to each other) & we then discussed what we had just read. Fantastic stuff. I would encourage every parent of a teenager to also make the time to read it.

Details & availability: Approx $17 AUD. Available Christian book shops and general bookstores. Also available Amazon &; Book Depository (

Feel free to click on this picture of the book to go straight to Amazon to preview the book. Likewise, click on & insert the title “Do Hard Things” in the search button to view the book there. Book Depository do not charge postage.

2 thoughts on “Book Review “Do Hard Things”

  1. Sarah

    You did a good book review. I liked how you explained about the book (Do Hard Things) because sometimes other people would just say what the book is and what it is about but you’ve explained everything and have a bit about each chapter and what type of stuff are in the chapter.

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