I grew up in a world where you had to work your ass off in order to make the team. I’m talking about five days a week a few hours at a time kind of work. I remember being tired, frustrated, and upset when I was younger because I just wanted to go home, and basketball is just a stupid game anyway. What I didn’t know was that 5'7 white boys who sit around playing video games don’t make the team. But the 5'7 kid who worked his ass off in the offseason did.
I’ve never really believed in participation trophies and say what you want about keeping score but I can tell you from experience that the children know who is winning the game. Beyond that, it feels good when you know you are better at something. Maybe that’s our ego talking, but there is something to be said about showing up and doing your work better than your opponent. In basketball they say height can’t be taught. But there are a lot of 7 foot tall dreamers out there who will never dawn a jersey.
It’s true that being given something you haven’t earned sets you up for failure later in life. Ten years removed from high school you can pretty well tell who the hard workers were. There’s countless child geniuses that are still working on their Bachelor’s degree. Talent goes a long way, but hustle is what shows up to play when talent is too busy procrastinating.
I made the basketball team my freshman year. And every year after that. While team mates, coaches, and observers can say a lot of things, “He’s too short”, “His shot is inconsistent”, “He can’t jump high enough”; No one I’ve played with or played for can ever say, “He didn’t work very hard”.
The far reaching outcome of working hard goes beyond your days playing sports. It directly impacts your future, especially with regards to your career. In school most of my peers assumed I wasn’t all that smart. My grades were definitely about average. But I’ve found success by working harder than those that presume they are smarter or better than me.
I stumbled into Software Engineering. I went to a job fair when I was 18 looking for anything that would help me get a little spending money. In the middle of the booths advertising jobs for cooking in the cafeteria and being a janitor after-hours was a booth for web design and development. I grabbed a resume and looked at the requirements. I didn’t have html or css experience. I decided that didn’t matter. I went home, googled html, and after a whole night of tutorials on w3schools.com I dropped off my resume. By the time of my interview a week later I showed them examples of the work I had done. They didn’t know I had procured it all in the last 72 hours. I got the job, and the rest is history.
Regardless of where you are right now, you can always work hard in order to get where you want to go. But I promise you, no one is going to give you the life you want unless you work your ass off to get there.