Leadership Moment: Handle Hard Better

Photo of two construction workers looking over blueprints.

If you’ve watched ESPN Sportscenter lately, you’ve seen the story about Duke’s Women’s Basketball Coach Kara Lawson. Recently, Coach Lawson addressed her players and shared a powerful message, encouraging them to “handle hard better.”

Life is filled with challenges. It’s not the absence of hard situations, but how we approach and handle them that determines their impact on us.

A difficult family situation, a demanding project or a conflict within your team might all be manageable separately, but sometimes several hard situations happen at once. In these moments, we have a chance to become better problem solvers and rise to the challenge. Coach Lawson said, “If you go around waiting for stuff to get easier in life, it’s never going to happen.”

So how does Lawson suggest we train ourselves to “handle hard better”?

“Focus on the present. Focus on the task at hand and come up with a solution to help you win each battle one at a time.”

As leaders and teammates, it’s important to know the power of positive reinforcement when we see each other struggling. Pick up a team member who may be down—together, you can make the burden less overwhelming.

Short-term failure is not defeat. Occasionally you will fail. Learn from those failures, and make the choice to get back up and “handle hard better.” It’s not about acquiring a specific set of skills — it’s about a strong mental approach to life.