A while ago I received an interesting e-mail from a blog I subscribe. The author of the blog, Seth Godin, a bestselling author, entrepreneur and self-professed agent of change questioned whether effort was a myth. He pointed out that our society, as is reinforced through the media, believes that success is merely a product of luck – who you know and whether you get “picked.” Politicians and beauty queens who get by on a smile and a wink; lottery winners who turn a lifetime of lousy jobs into one big payday; sports stars who are born with skills we could never hope to acquire; Hollywood celebrities with the talent of being in the right place at the right time; failed CEOs with $40 million buyouts; etc. Effort, therefore, is perceived as futile and only for the unlucky. What’s the use of putting forth effort if luck is what we assume it takes to succeed? Is effort really a myth or is it all about luck? “The thing about luck, Godin goes on to say, is that we're all already lucky - lucky that we weren't born during the black plague or in a country with no freedom; that we've got access to highly-leveraged tools and terrific opportunities.” And while luck can come from different points of view, from the guy hit by a bus to the one who wins the lottery, the only constant directly related to success is effort. Godin describes this as the key to the paradox of effort: “While luck may be more appealing than effort, you don't get to choose luck. Effort, on the other hand, is totally available, all the time.” What separates effort from effort with results? Hard work.
Godin points out that “harder working” people do better than other people most of the time. This phenomenon exists all the time with regards to exercise. Plain and simple, those who work hard see the most results. Just showing up, going through the motions, making excuses for why the effort was not made, lead to mediocre if not poor results. The small percentage who are “lucky” enough to have a high metabolism appear to put forth less effort, but that’s not a reason for anyone else to think that their effort is a winless battle. In business, the hardest working salesperson is generally the most successful. They work hard to develop their skill; grow their list of contacts; do all the things that everyone else is not; deliver more than expected. Even in professional athletics, those who appear to have natural talent will tell you that they still work hard at their trade. They have to – everyone at the professional level has the talent. In every aspect of life, there is an example of what hard work can do. There’s simply no denying it.
So you have to honestly ask yourself, “Do I work hard? Do I work to my potential? Or do I just like to think that I am, only to be in the same place, doing the same thing, getting the same results?” Effort is a choice, luck is chance, but hard work is invaluable. No one finishes last when they put forth the effort to work hard.