rebelling against low expectations

A Lesson From The Vikings


The Vikings were fierce pirates and warriors who terrorized Europe from the late 700’s to about A.D. 1100. Brutal and fearsome they looted and burned parts of England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, and Spain. Other Europeans were so frightened of the Vikings that a special prayer for protection was offered in the churches: “God, deliver us from the fury of the Northmen.”

Most historians attribute the Vikings devastating effectiveness to their warships, which were swift and light and could be easily dragged ashore. This allowed them to strike suddenly and then quickly retreat to the safety of the sea. However, my wise father has identified another contributing factor—one that holds incredible significance for all of us: The Vikings rowed themselves to battle.

Unlike the Romans, who used galley slaves to row their great warships, the Vikings took full responsibility for this strenuous activity. This tells us two things: 1) the Vikings didn’t feel that rowing was beneath them—they pursued competence in every area pertaining to their success, and 2) they were seriously ripped. No wonder the people of Europe were afraid of these guys—their muscles were moving twenty-ton boats through the water!

Here’s The Rebelution’s challenge: Do hard things. Learn a lesson from the Vikings. Do hard things and you will carry the battle every time. If you are willing to take on responsibilities that others delegate or neglect you will gain the benefits of that exertion.

Too often we delegate the responsibility for our education, our character, our future, etc. to others who hold far less of a stake in how things turn out. And more often than not a failure to perform in the areas of character and competence are due to a lack of past exertion.

Look around you. Many American young people are doing little more than “making it”—and this in a culture of unbelievably low standards. Few shoulder the burden of doing more than is required—yet that was the key to the Viking’s success!

In subsequent posts we will examine how we can “do hard things” by educating ourselves, tackling and maintaining normal responsibilities, and attempting the “impossible.” For now, I want you to ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Am I choosing to Do Hard Things in my personal life? In my education? In the goals I set?
  • Am I exceeding expectations or just getting by?
  • Am I robbing myself of greater achievements because I’m unwilling to take on certain responsibilities?

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.

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rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →