There is a significant difference between hard and difficult.
This difference is subtle and slight to the unknowing mind - so much so, in fact, that many people confuse one for the other. I have missed for years until it clicked for me yesterday.
"Hard" is what the simple or lazy or uneducated call something which they cannot either believe themselves to do or understand how it is done. It is an easy enough thing to say and is some ways is a generalization of all we do not believe possible: "It is hard." With these three words, many people banish themselves from the realm of being able to accomplish anything at all.
Why? Because, in our mind, if something is hard, that means it is not easy. And not easy is something that most people do not like to do. We want simple steps to improvement or success or goals. When they escape us in either conception or application, when they look they may require effort or education or time, we too often simply say "It is hard".
Difficult is what the educated and understanding call something which they do not know how to do at the moment or do not understand how it is done. They understand that the only thing standing between themselves and accomplishment is learning and practice. "Difficult" implies that there are a number of things to do or steps to take to master something, but it is not impossible. It can be learned and it can be done.
My example, the moment of clarity that brought this to light? Yesterday, throwing the caber.
Hard: Those that do not know or will not learn look at throwing the caber and thing "It is hard. It is a telephone size pole that looks long and heavy, much heavier than I can lift. And besides, the people throwing it are so much bigger and stronger than I could ever be."
Difficult: Those that will learn and want to achieve say "It is difficult. It looks long and heavy, but obviously people are doing it. They may be strong and big, but surely that is not impossible and is not the only key to succeeding." And after they look into it, they find three factors:
1) The Caber: Cabers differ at every game. They are different lengths, widths, woods and surfaces with different tapers and different size heads. Each one is unique; therefore to learn to throw one must be more than becoming expert on a single one.
2) The Condition of the Caber: Wet cabers are slick and heavy. Cracked cabers may pinch you, cabers which have not been smoothed can tear you up with the small extrusions and cabers that have not been debarked may create an odd surface to grip.
3) The Conditions: Rain makes a caber slick and heavy (and the ground muddy as well). Ground with holes make an obstacle course. Throwing downhill is better than throwing uphill. And a windy day will shift the caber as you stand and pick it (after all, you have it 15 to 20 feet in the air) and can make it very difficult to pick and pull.
Those are the factors. The actual mechanics - pick, move, pull - are the same no matter what caber.
But to those that will simply not try or learn, all this is merely hard. It is only in the willingness to learn and the motivation to succeed that we learn that they are difficult - but not impossible.