I will give you an example of how this statement rings true. When I’m lifting weights at crossfit – if I doubt myself or I don’t feel like I can do it; generally I struggle. If I walk in with confidence and feel that I can do it, usually I don’t have any difficulties with a heavy lift. If I’m aiming to improve a lift – I have to work hard to get there, but believing that I will get there keeps me motivated and means that I will push through. So self belief does get you halfway there… but it’s hard work that gets you the rest of the way.
Another example: I’ve been a coach for swimming, for cheerleading, for touch footy, a mentor for the Duke of Edinburgh program, and a teacher. The quote above is spot on. There are some people with a natural talent or flair – they are born that way. And at the start of a new season or school year this can excite a coach or teacher – the thought that this kid will do so well. But by midway through the year/season it becomes obvious which kids are most likely to succeed or improve. It’s the kids with a good work ethic, the ones who continue to try, who listen, practice, and patiently chip away at their goals. Often enough, it’s not the naturally talented individual who continues to get by on their inborn skills. The kid who started the season without skill but worked hard and listened will end the season much improved. They might not yet have become as talented as the person born with the natural skills but with persistence and time they may surpass them.
Note: this doesn’t mean that naturally talented individuals are not hardworking. Some are extraordinary and will achieve the highest possible outcomes.
It’s that persistence and strength of will that makes them hard to beat. It’s a good lesson in life. No one is good at every thing. It’s not really possible to be naturally brilliant at every single thing you try to do. It is possible to improve, to learn, and to grow. We all have our areas that we are naturally drawn to. A real life example for me (back to crossfit): I’m naturally strong. I was born short and muscular. I can lift heavy weights. I can do a handstand for 2 minutes without an issue. But grip strength hanging off bars? When I started I had none. It’s taken 9 months for me to be able to do chin ups and pull ups with a very small band. While friends of mine struggle with the heavy lifts they’re all capable of doing body weight chin ups. This doesn’t mean that they’re better or worse than I am – we are naturally different. But we work hard to get better. And the fact that we as a group push to be our personal best means that we continue to improve. Sometimes we get skills quickly and sometimes it takes months.
Have you ever received a job promotion or awards for your sport or academic achievement? I bet it wasn’t just luck. Your hard work would have placed you in the position for some good fortune to shine upon you. There’s always going to be an element of luck in life – but the harder you work – the luckier you become.
Hard work – there are no shortcuts. It’s a long road… but it’s worth it!