Do Hard Things

A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations



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April 15, 2008 | ISBN 9781601421616

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About the Book

ECPA BESTSELLER • Discover a movement of Christian young people who are rebelling against the low expectations of their culture by choosing to “do hard things” for the glory of God.

Foreword by Chuck Norris • “One of the most life-changing, family-changing, church-changing, and culture-changing books of this generation.”—Randy Alcorn, bestselling author of Heaven

Combating the idea of adolescence as a vacation from responsibility, Alex and Brett Harris weave together biblical insights, history, and modern examples to redefine the teen years as the launching pad of life and map a clear trajectory for long-term fulfillment and eternal impact.
Written by teens for teens, Do Hard Things is packed with humorous personal anecdotes, practical examples, and stories of real-life rebelutionaries in action. This rallying cry from the heart of revolution already in progress challenges you to lay claim to a brighter future, starting today. Now featuring a conversation guide, 100 real-life examples of hard things tackled by other young people, and stories of young men and women who have taken the book’s charge to heart, Do Hard Things will inspire a new generation of rebelutionaries.
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Praise for Do Hard Things

CBA bestseller
ECPA bestseller

Praise for Do Hard Things

Do Hard Things is an extraordinary book. In fact, I believe it will prove to be one of the most life-changing, family-changing, church-changing, and culture-changing books of this generation. I'd love for every teenager to read this book, but I'm just as eager for every parent, church leader, and educator to read it.”
– Randy Alcorn, best-selling author of Heaven and The Treasure Principle

“This book is one I would recommend to any of my friends, teen or not. If it doesn't help you, you are lying.”
– Carter B., age 14, North Carolina

Do Hard Things is so important. It is challenging teenagers to rebel against the low expectations placed on them. And the voices that are asking teens to rise to meet this challenge are voices from their own generation. That thrills me.”
– Chuck Colson, bestselling author of How Now Shall We Live?

“I love the way it is written. It is crystal clear, to the point, interesting, funny, challenging, encouraging, and an easy read.”
– Lisa R., age 15, Australia

“Adult expectations for youth are too low. And these twins are out to raise them. Don't adapt to the low cultural expectations for youth. Set high ones. Youth can become examples for adults. Think that way. Dream that way. Or as the Harris brothers would say, ‘Rebel against low expectations.’”
– John Piper, bestselling author of Don’t Waste Your Life

“The message of Do Hard Things is going to awaken the dreams and passions of thousands of young people all over the world. How do I know this? This radical, yet relatively simple idea, has changed my life.”
– Erika H., age 18, Michigan

“In a culture where laziness and ease is often the order of the day for teenagers, Do Hard Things presents a radical and provocative alternative. I heartily recommend this book.”
– R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This book has totally changed the way I think. I recommend it to any and every teen who has a desire to turn their life around and make a difference.”
– Ashley W., age 13, Georgia

“Alex and Brett capture the passion and potential of our generation perfectly in this book. In Do Hard Thingsthey encourage us to go above and beyond the status quo in everything from schoolwork to serving the poor. This is a truly unique and sorely needed book.”
– Zach Hunter, author of Be the Change and Generation Change

“This book is amazing. It changes your whole way of thinking. I believe that every single teen needs to buy a copy of this book. Thanks, Alex and Brett for challenging us!”
– Stacie L., age 15, Kentucky

“This is an important book. And not just for those wanting to launch successfully into adulthood, but also for discontent twenty- and thirty-somethings who long to be catapulted into significance.”
– Ted Slater, editor of Boundless, Focus on the Family

“I'm not exactly a teenager anymore. But as I was reading I began to see how this can apply to anyone. It's never too late to start. I absolutely cannot wait to suggest this book to the 'kidults' in my life.”
– Matt R., age 26, Georgia

“Alex and Brett are the real deal and Do Hard Things is a real wake up call, not just for young people, but for all God's people. I can't recommend it highly enough.”
Shannon Ethridge, bestselling author of the Every Woman's Battle series

“This book is a wake up call to a generation that is down in the dumps. It's like a coach screaming from the sidelines, ‘You can do it!!!’. I'd recommend it to anyone, young or old.”
– Douglas A., age 17, England

Do Hard Things is the textbook for anyone who works with teens; it’s a philosophical and foundational must-read.”
– Timothy Eldred, executive director of Christian Endeavor International

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Do Hard Things

What If…?
A Different Kind of Teen Book
Most people don’t expect you to understand what we’re going to tell you in this book. And even if you understand, they don’t expect you to care. And even if you care, they don’t expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don’t expect it to last.

Well, we do.

This is a different kind of teen book. Check online or walk through your local bookstore. You’ll find plenty of books written by forty-somethings who, like, totally understand what it’s like being a teenager. You’ll find a lot of cheap, throwaway books for teens, because young people today aren’t supposed to care much about books, or see any reason to keep them around. And you’ll find a wide selection of teen books where you never have to read anything twice–because it’s been dumbed down. Like, just for you.

What you’re holding in your hands right now is a challenging, hardcover book for teens by two teens who believe our generation is ready for something different. Ready for something that doesn’t promise you a whole new life if you’ll just buy the right brand of jeans or use the right kind of deodorant. We believe our generation of young people is ready to rethink what teens are capable of, and what the teen years are all about. And we’ve noticed that once some wrong ideas are debunked and cleared away, our generation is quick to choose a better way, even if it’s also more difficult.

Our teen years have been different than most, even radically so. We’re 19-year-old twin brothers, born and raised in Oregon, taught at home by our parents, and striving to follow Christ while making more than our share of mistakes. Strangely enough, we’ve also served as interns at the Supreme Court of Alabama at 16, as grassroots directors for four statewide political campaigns at 17, and as authors of the most popular Christian teen blog on the web at 18. We’ve spoken to thousands of teens and parents at our conferences in the United States and internationally and reached millions online.

Some might think our experiences would make us unable to relate to the average teenager. But that doesn’t really bother us because we don’t believe average teenagers exist. We’ve witnessed the ideas in this book transform “normal” teens into world-changers, and we’ve seen small handfuls of teens just like you accomplish incredible things when they’re willing to break the mold of what society says their capable of.

So the story starts with us, but it’s really not about us. It’s about something God is doing in the hearts and minds of our generation. We call it a teenage rebellion against low expectations. It’s an exciting movement that is changing the attitudes and actions of teens around the world. And we want you to be part of it.

This book explores a few simple but far-reaching questions:
• Is it possible that even though many teens today have more freedom than any other generation in history, we’re actually missing out on some of the best years of our lives?
• Is it possible that everything our culture tells us about the purpose and potential of the teen years is a lie, and that we are its victims?
• Is it possible that our teen years actually represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accomplish something huge–both for ourselves and for our generation?
• And finally, what would our lives look like if we set out on a different path entirely–a path that required more effort but promised a lot more reward, and ultimately, a lot more fun?

We describe that alternative path with three simple words: Do Hard Things.

What We Don’t Mean
On the outskirts of a small town in Germany is the abbey of Dundelhoff. This small stone monastery is home to a particularly strict (and fictitious) sect of Dundress Monks who have each vowed to live a life of continual self-denial and discomfort.

Instead of wearing comfy t-shirts and well-worn jeans like most people, their clothing is either itchy shirts made from hair or painful chain mail worn directly over bare skin. Instead of a soft mattress, plush pillows, and warm blankets they choose to sleep on the cold stone floors of the abbey with not so much as a towel. You might remember reading somewhere that monks are fabulous cooks? Well, that might be true generally, but not about these monks. They eat colorless, tasteless sludge once a day. They drink only lukewarm water.

We could go on, but you get the picture. No matter what decision they face, Dundress Monks will always choose the more difficult option–the one that provides the least physical comfort, the least appeal, the least fun. Why? Because they believe that the more miserable they are, the holier they are; and the holier they are, the happier God is.

Which makes these miserable monks the poster boys for Do Hard Things. Right?


If you’re like most people, your first reaction to the idea of “do hard things” is something along the lines of, “Hard…,” you think nervously. “Guys, I might need to be somewhere else right about now.

We understand your reaction. But we’re not undercover monks plotting to make your life miserable. We’re not recommending that you do just anything that’s hard. For example, we’re not telling you to rob a bank, jump off a cliff, climb Half Dome with your bare hands, or stand on your head for 24 hours straight. And we’re certainly not telling you to work harder so you can earn God’s favor.

But here’s what we are doing. We are challenging our peers to grab hold of a much better option than what the world is offering. It’s an option that has somehow gotten lost in our culture and most people don’t even know it. But we don’t just want to tell you, we want to show you. In the pages ahead you’re going to meet young people just like you who have rediscovered this better way–to reach higher, dream bigger, grow stronger, love and honor God, live with more joy–and quit wasting their lives.

That’s the short version of what we mean by doing hard things.

Don’t think of this book as a collection of nice opinions. Think of it more as an invitation to a revolution you don’t want to miss. In Do Hard Things, we not only say there is a better way to do the teen years, we show you how we and thousands of other teens are doing it right now–and how you can as well.

[Excerpt taken from Do Hard Things Manuscript]

About the Author

Alex Harris
Alex Harris coauthored of the bestselling book Do Hard Things with his twin brother Brett when they were 18. They spoke regularly to audiences of thousands on The Rebelution Tour; maintained a large online community through their blog,; and were featured on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times. Raised in Portland, Oregon, the brothers attended Patrick Henry College in Virginia. More by Alex Harris
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About the Author

Brett Harris
Brett Harris coauthored the bestselling book Do Hard Things with his twin brother, Alex Harris, when they were eighteen. They spoke regularly to audiences of thousands on the Rebelution Tour; maintained a large online community through their blog,; and were featured on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times. Raised in Portland, Oregon, the brothers attended Patrick Henry College in Virginia. More by Brett Harris
Decorative Carat