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A Lesson from the Vikings

The Vikings were fierce pirates and warriors who terrorized northern Europe nearly a thousand years ago.  They looted and burned pretty much every European country that had the misfortune to border the Atlantic Ocean.  Europeans were so frightened of the Viking menace that churches often offered a special prayer: “God, deliver us from the fury of the Northmen.”

Most historians attribute the Vikings’ devastating effectiveness to their warships, which were light enough to be dragged up onto the beach.  That allowed the raiders to make lightning-fast strikes, then retreat quickly to the safety of the sea.

However, another contributing factor holds great significance for rebelutionaries:  the Viking rowed themselves to battle.  Most other sea powers at that time used slaves or professional rowers to propel their warships, but the Vikings took full responsibility for that repetitive and strenuous activity.  That tells us one very important thing about them:  they were seriously ripped.

No wonder an entire continent lived in dread of them.  By sheer muscle power, they routinely moved twenty-ton boats across miles of ocean.  When they got out of their boats and started swinging their battle-axes, it didn’t matter if you carried a shield or barricaded your door.  You stood little chance.  The Viking’s incredible upper-body strength made them nearly undefeatable.

We can all learn a lesson about small hard things from the Viking.  If we’re willing to strive for excellence, even in the boring, repetitive tasks and responsibilities that others delegate or neglect, we will reap the powerful benefits that others miss.

Embracing small hard things can make a radical difference.


Harris, Alex & Brett, Do Hard Things, Multnomah Books, Portland, OR.  Page 140

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