The Brain Loves A Challenge 

In a recent article in The Washington Post entitled The brain loves a challenge. Here's why., Richard Sima talks about the "effort paradox," which refers to a confusing set of truths: On the one hand, human beings seek hard things -- ultramarathons, solving puzzles at high speeds, solo flights around the globe, and so on. On the other hand, we also tend to avoid hard tasks, often preferring the easier route. However nice it may feel to take it easy, though, what comes through effort and challenge over time is often more valued. As Sima says, "being able to try hard is a useful skill for achieving challenging goals that you value." 


An unprecedented percentage of modern students are caught in the effort paradox, wanting the work to be easy and avoiding challenges, yet feeling unfulfilled unless they tackle tasks that move them outside of their comfort zones. When coaches encounter these students -- as they do daily on campuses across the country -- they can ask questions that help students see the value in effort, take action steps toward a challenge, and move toward the higher satisfaction and meaning that effort can bring to their lives. 


  • What percentage of your potential effort are you putting out right now?

  • Describe the difference between the work you are doing and the work you could be doing for this course.

  • What is the hardest task you are working on right now? How does that effort make you feel? What reward do you anticipate it will bring you?

  • Last semester, what challenge brought your greatest satisfaction, and why?

  • What kind of hard work feels good to you?

  • What task are you avoiding right now because it feels too hard? What positive result could come from giving it a try?

Join us to challenge yourself by taking your coaching to the next level so that you can help take your students to the outer limits of their abilities, dreams and goals. Challenge has its own rewards over the long term.


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