Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Secret To Success: Hard Work

Hard work without talent is a shame, but talent without hard work is a tragedy.
Robert Half

I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true —hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it.
—Ray Bradbury

If I don't practice for a day, I know it. If I don't practice for two days, my wife knows it. If I don't practice for three days, the world knows it.
—Vladimir Horowitz 

Work:  The painting took 13 years to complete. As one art site put it: "It is a modern allegory of society and a literal rendition of Heath Street, Hampstead. In it he shows ordinary people as heroes, but without a shade of sentimentality: at the center are common navvies digging. They are surrounded by a thronging crowd of contemporary people: ragged working class children and beggars alongside street traders and smart upper class ladies."
Artist: Ford Madox Brown (1821-93). Oil on canvas. Original in the Manchester City Art Galleries
Source: Wikipedia

As is common with many parents, I have always tried to instill certain values in my children, one being the necessity of hard work. I am reminded of this virtue because my nine-year-old son returns to school today, to Grade 4, and let me add  not with much enthusiasm. Hopefully, he will soon see the advantage that learning and hard work confers on people. It's an earned advantage open to anyone and everyone.

Since I was young—I am now 53—I have understood this value of hard work, both academically and outside of school. It was something that I viewed in my parents and to which I naturally understood as important for success. I started working when quite young—I think I was eight—first stocking shelves at my parents' grocery store, then the paper route after school and shoveling snow in high school and other part-time jobs in college and university too numerous to mention. Most of my peers did the same.

Now, it's true that I might have grown up in a working middle-class family in the 1960s and '70s, and such was normal for the times. But I have noticed that in the biographies of famous people that I have read there is a recurring theme—whether they are scientists, artists, musicians or professional athletes—they all worked hard. It's also true that they loved what they did, and that's important, too.

Talent is important, no doubt, but even with talent or ability, there is no guarantee of success. Laziness in the pursuit of a profession will prevent you from succeeding. (And success is related to happiness.) It's also true that working hard is no guarantee of success. It also takes some luck, or timing, or some other intangible. Yet,  not working hard is certainly a guarantee of failure.

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