Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

I’m not doing anything else that is HARD…done with the HARD STUFF!

Written by: on January 13, 2023

I made a declaration on Tuesday morning, during incredible physical pain from new formed gallstones, that I’m DONE with hard things. I am not doing anything else that is hard for at least 6 months. I am only doing things, experiencing people, feeling emotions, sharing words, and listening in ways that are easy for me and bring me joy. Loved Ones, this may sound ridiculous and totally impossible to you but, in that moment, I meant it (and I still sort of mean it). So, as I sat in my bed, surrounded by things that make me happy, I glanced at the books stacked on my nightstand, and quickly determined that the readings this week fall in the category of “hard things’. Not because I don’t have the ability to comprehend them but because the actual act of picking them up, cracking the spine and going through the pages and dog-earing (yes, I still use this as an effective method of reminding me to go back) pages was more than I had the energy to do therefore solidly placing it in the “hard things” category.  But as a true Enneagram 8, my need to be assertive took over. I tried to ignore the stack of books, but the presence of the stack of books and the impeding deadline to write this week’s post, seemed to challenge me. The typical mantras were in my head, “Beautiful Girl, You Can Do Hard Things!”, “She Believed She Could, So She Did!”, “Your Mountain Is Waiting to Be Climbed, Be on Your Way!”.  I acknowledge that this feeling of being challenged by the books and the mantras on repeat in my head could all be characteristics of being an Enneagram 8 or it could have simply been the effects of the very powerful pain meds in my system, whatever it was I picked up the first book and decided to do at least one more “hard thing”, I began reading.

I love reading and writing, they bring me joy. However, I like to have a great deal of control over what I read and what I chose to write about. I had low expectations for How to Read a Book, by Adler and Van Doren. I mean, how helpful could it be? It’s a book that I have been assigned to read to tell me how to read a book…really?!?! As I pressed on, I’ll admit that the light bulb went off in my brain when I began to understand that Inspectional Reading is the absolute cure for me reading things that I have not chosen for myself. It is the key to doing the most pressing “hard thing”, reading three books in two days. So, when I read, “Our point is really very simple. Many books are hardly worth even skimming; some should be read quickly; and few should be read at a rate, usually quite slow, that allows for complete comprehension. It is wasteful to read a book slowly that deserves only a fast reading;”[1], it transformed the way I approached the rest of Adler’s book, and the two other books assigned this week. As I inspectionally read How to Take Smart Notes I quickly discovered that my note taking skills have not been effective. I have a collection of post-it notes with phrases like, “you should explore this further”, “this seems integral to the topic”, “yes, this is exactly the direction I want to go”! They are all over my office with no real connection to the source. My system is awful!  It was truly liberating to read Ahrens account of Niklas Luhmann’s Slip-Box process, he states, “Rarely would a note stay in isolation. He did not just copy ideas or quotes from the texts he read, but made a transition from one context to another.”[2] Looking around at all my post-it notes, slips of paper and books with multiple dog-eared pages it is clear that I have more work to do and that my declaration to not do anything else that is hard can only come true if I commit to a system that allows me to work more effective. Things are really only as hard as you make them!


[1] Mortimer Jerome Adler and Van Charles Doren, in How to Read a Book (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014), 39.

[2] Sönke Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking (Hamburg, Germany: Sönke Ahrens, 2022), 18.

About the Author


Jonita Fair-Payton

8 responses to “I’m not doing anything else that is HARD…done with the HARD STUFF!”

  1. Noel Liemam says:

    Ms. Jonita,
    I was overwhelmed by just thinking about the amount of readings. I thought to myself that no way I could manage it. Well, I still sometimes do; however, I have decided to take the initiative by pushing myself to do it and just see what happen after. So, as I was doing the readings, I came across the four levels of Readings in Ultimate Guide by Mortimer Adler and it helped me a lot by guiding me on my process of reading and obtaining information.

    Among the four levels of readings, the inspectional and the analytical are really helpful in the way that (a,) it gets me to specific locations and (b.) it helps me understand what I am reading.

    By the way, how do you guys link the citations to the the sources?

  2. mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

    Thank you for your honesty. I believe that most of us were feeling the same overwhelmed feeling. I really had to push myself, I was determined to get it done. I’m going to intentionally embrace methods that make this process easier to manage. I want to enjoy this journey and not dread the deadlines.

    As for the endnotes. I typed my blog post in word and used the endnote’s function. I transferred them from Citation Machine (I still have the subscription from Grad School) to my word doc. When I finished, I copied and pasted the entire document, and all of the citations and sources formatting remained the same. There may be a simpler way.

  3. Travis Vaughn says:

    Jonita, I am an Enneagram 5. I loved reading about how you, as an Enneagram 8, processed your circumstances this week. As a 5, my fear is appearing to be incompetent. I’m guessing that if that would have happened to me (By the way, I’m so sorry to hear that you experienced gallstones, and I will continue to pray!) while looking at the mountain of books we have to read, my internal response might have been, “How is this pain going to prevent me from being able to seem smart in my smartly (hardly) devised responses to the reading.” Ha! How do you think your Enneagram 8-ness will affect the way you tackle each week’s assignment as you move closer to the end of the semester?

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      That’s a great question. My friend, who is an Enneagram 9, said something to me that made me really think about how my 8ness is showing up in this process. She said that as an 8, once I started this program, I already begin to see it as accomplished because we don’t typically quit. We start and know that we will finish so we immediately begin to think about what’s next after this. I thought about that and there is some truth to that. The challenge is that this program will not allow me to do that…I can’t begin to plan what’s after because all of my focus is on the “right now’! I think it will be an adjustment for me.

  4. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    Jonita, thank you for your honesty on what sounds like a rough start to a challenging semester! One thing I noticed is your mindset, being able to adjust the vision of your view on how you perceive the hard. AND…sometimes we still have to do the hard. I love the Enneagram and I’m a 7w8 so I related to your utilizing that self knowledge on this work. I “want to avoid the pain” so looked at stack of books and cringed. I have a mantra at my desk that says “start where you are”. I think we sometimes think everything needs to be in order before we do the next hard thing…it can be paralyzing. So beautiful one….well done starting where you are!

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      You know, I have learned over the last year to take things one step at a time. It has been an area of growth for me because I am always planning several steps ahead, it’s how I am wired. I can totally identify with “Start where you are’! I’m grateful to be on this journey with you.

  5. Jennifer Vernam says:

    Of all the blog posts I have read today, yours has taken me on the biggest emotional roller coaster! Gall Stones! Only Doing Fun! Too Many Post-it Notes! I am so sorry that you are having medical issues, and will be praying that healing comes quick.

    I am impressed by your ability to artfully tie what is happening in life to what you are learning in your studies. We will find balance among the two!

  6. mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

    Jennifer, thank you for your prayers. I am on the mend trying to avoid or at least delay gallbladder surgery.
    Yeah… that’s the goal, to find balance between what’s going on in our life and our research. Or do you think the goal is integration or finding the point of intersection?

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