rebelling against low expectations

Do Hard Things: A Message from President John F. Kennedy


On September 12, 1962, then U.S. President John F. Kennedy gave his famous “Moon Speech” at Rice University, with the goal of persuading the American people to support NASA’s efforts to send a manned space flight to the moon.

The full speech runs around 18-minutes, but these 47-seconds are the most well-known. Here, JFK explains why the United States wants to go to the moon and reveals that doing hard things serves to sharpen and equip us to be the very best we can be, both as individuals and as nations.

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Tell us about a challenge (big or small) that you’ve chosen to accept in your own life. Has tackling that challenge taught you more about yourself and what you are capable of doing and becoming? Why do you think doing hard things is good for countries, families, and individuals?

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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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  • Thanks for the e-letters. I enjoy reading them and give me good things to think about.
    Work is what the creator designed us to do. And if we’re gonna work why not go for bigger things, higher things a satisfaction of achieving something so significant after a ton of persistence and patience and faith. People don’t pour their “blood, sweat and tears” into something that seems average of mediocre or is just as good as what they did last time. There’s something God put in us as humans that loves and desires excellence.
    I set this year, 2014, that my top priority is to Love God and Love People – Primarily giving the highest honor and respect to my parents and my family.
    It’s been very difficult but the path that this has paved has been rewarding. The biggest of my challenges is confronting my ego and dying to it. I have studied people tremendously over the last few years and have picked up on techniques that help deal with people, but when it comes to the bottom of things I end up coming out loosing no matter what if I came from any place but the love of the Father.
    When I know I am right with God it’s a whole lot easier to be right with people because I don’t have myself in the way. 🙂

  • I once heard that if you aim high, you may not achieve it, but you’ll get close. However if you aim even higher than that, you may not succeed, but you’ll be higher than the first try you had.

  • I am so grateful for people who are willing to aim high, and not quit because of fear of failure and defeat. President Kennedy reached for the stars, literally. But I think it is important to remember that you don’t have to be in a high ranking position to Do Hard Things. Alex and Brett Harris prove this every day. Some of us may make excuses like “It isn’t my personality to do Hard Things” or “I’m not important enough to make a difference. I really like what Gandalf said in Lord of the Rings: “They are like the small stones that start an avalanche.” He was speaking of Merry and Pippin, two considered unimportant people who were willing to step up and do a Hard Thing, which in turn caused a bigger impact and in then caused an even bigger impact.

    Even a ‘small’ Hard Thing, like refusing to drink a beer, underage, because everyone else is doing it, can cause something bigger, like a conviction in a friend who, in tern, decides to do the same as you and do the right thing, and is saved from being an alcoholic, and ends up being the next President of the United States.

    My point is, God can use any type of personality, with or without a website or high-tech equipment, to Do Hard Things, bring glory to Him, and make a difference, if we let him use us.
    For “We can do all things through Christ, who gives us strength.”

    Thank you, and God bless you, Alex and Brett,
    – Trent

    • Great thoughts, Trent! Thanks so much for sharing. It’s true. You don’t need a website or a high position to do hard things. Everyone is called to obey God and follow Him from right where they are. =)

      • Yes! Exactly! God uses the most unlikely people to do some of the biggest tasks. I am so grateful for such an amazing God.

  • In the 2012-2013 school year I attempted to memorize the book of 1 Timothy as part of a challenge my online school was doing. Before then I had only memorized 10 or so verses at the same time, and 1 Timothy is more than 100, so I was hesitant to try at first. However, once a few months had gone by, I realized that the hard part wouldn’t be trying to remember it all, but taking the time each day or 2 to read the passage. It was hard, but not as hard as I thought. I recited it in front of my church congregation before reciting it to my teacher and getting a gift card (or a digital equivalent) for
    Through this I learned that, not only am I even better than I thought at memorizing scripture, but my brain can hold a lot of information in this way.
    This (school) year I am reviewing 1 Timothy and memorizing 2 Timothy.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your personal story of doing hard things, Garet! That’s a great example of realizing you are capable of much more than you thought possible. God bless!

  • Hey Brett,
    I recently submitted an article in the Submit Content section. About how long will it be until I know if it was accepted or rejected?
    – Trent

  • LOL, he pronounced “decade” funny :-)) In any event, though, JFK was a good, godly man…I respect & admire him and I look forward to meeting him someday soon.

  • I started reading your book, do hard things, and then i was on visitation with my church and one of the bus workers challenged me about joining the bus ministry, and i am going to start riding tomorrow, because i found that i was afraid to do truly hard things!

    • Wow, that’s great Isobel. Thanks for sharing your story with us. We’re so glad to hear that you are already stepping outside your comfort zone and doing hard things for God’s glory!

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 →