These days people do not want to talk about hard work and so you will hear them say ‘work smart, not hard’. It seems to me that the concept of hard work is regarded as a bit of a loser.It is not sexy at all. It is not cool! People would be complimented for being talented than forbeing hard working. So when my mother told Power FM listeners earlier this year that “rather than being naturally intelligent, Kgethi works hard”, people thought that was a negative comment.
I didn’t because I know that what she said is true. Of course when my Jewish mother came onto the same programme after my mom, she described me as wise rather than intelligent. Well there is a big difference between wisdom and intelligence and I’d rather be hardworking and wise! One day I will share my views about wisdom and intelligence but for now let me focus on hard work.
The truth is that I found learning and getting good marks relatively easy when I was at school. School never seemed like too much hard work. It was only at university that I truly had to make an effort. It was not easy at all. Being mathematics major I found my courses pretty demanding and so I had to put in the hours to do well (and feed my competitive spirit).
Not everyone would admit to hard work. The cool boys and girls at varsity often boast of how little time they spend in the library and try very hard to appear calm and collected about getting high marks for their papers. They don’t want to appear as working too hard even if they spend time many hours swotting for exams. Hard work is just not cool, but is this fair?
This makes me wonder whether I’ve got my pecking order right. My view is that you can’t win on talent alone – academic success is NOT just about talent. Success requires hard work- whether you are a tennis player, an artist, a scientist, a writer or an entrepreneur. In fact, it’s pretty much irrelevant whether you are naturally talented or not, as long as you have the right attitude! The right attitude is when you believe that you can cultivate your abilities and develop talents through practice. Of course we have different talents but talent on its own does not produce success. In fact talent that is not supported by hard work ultimately runs out of steam and fails.
There is no doubt that some people may be better or faster than others at acquiring certain skills, but what hard work tells us is that everyone can get better over time. So let’s not be shy to give some praise to good old hard work and perhaps. So the next time you experience the power of an excellent leader, teacher or scientist, don’t just think of them as talented but recognise the hours they had put into their work.