Tag Archives: effort

Happy Labor Day! This holiday deserves a special place in our hearts, and not just because it marks the point at which all New York state students return to school. On Labor Day, we honor the contributions that workers have made–and continue to make–to society. We are all, in a very real sense, workers. Where our labors take us depends entirely on our sense of purpose and the clarity of our goals. Once you’ve fixed your eyes on a worthy prize, be smart about your efforts and try to have some fun, but, more than anything else, commit to doing the work.

As another academic year draws to a close, we should all reflect on how much effort, enthusiasm, and endurance is required to succeed in anything. School will end all too soon, but staying strong to the very end–playing to the final whistle, if you will–demands hard work. Here’s some encouragement to keep working! And lest you forget why you are working so hard in the first place, remember this…

Few things take the wind out of a student’s sails faster than seeing someone they consider beneath them–in a strictly academic sense, of course–score much higher on an important test. The pain increases exponentially when high stakes tests are involved. I’ve seen the bad sides of plenty of good high schoolers when their classmates’ test scores come up. Yet, this uncharitable mix of jealousy and self-loathing usually misses a fundamental point about effort and achievement that Ava at Bookbear Express explains clearly: Here’s what I know: if someone’s much better than you at something, they probably try much harder. You probably underestimate how much harder they try. I’m not saying that talent isn’t a meaningful differentiator, because it certainly is, but I think people generally underestimate how effort needs to be poured into talent in order to develop it. So much of getting good at anything is just pure labor:…

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I recently found myself engaged in one of the socialization rituals that marks this inflection point in human history: watching others play video games. Specifically, I chatted with my son and niece while they played Fortnite, which will surely carry the enduring cultural cache for their generation that sitcoms like Happy Days and The Brady Bunch played for mine. While gunning down hapless opponents from around the world, the two digital warriors deigned to educate me on the fine line between effort and obsession. Certain players, they claimed, were nothing more than tryhards or sweats. These strivers, often identifiable by certain skins, took all the fun out of the game. Their wins lacked legitimacy by dint of the fact that they tried too hard. How can accusing someone of effort be an insult? The term tryhard has a long history as a derogatory appellation. The insult was originally hurled at…

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While the current college admissions cheating scandal has left most Americans appropriately mortified, some people consistently take away the wrong messages. Do not conflate access with achievement. The slur about scions of privilege who are “born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” stings because we instinctively recognize the emptiness of unearned rewards. How, then, should students acquire the test scores, grades, and achievements that will win access to the colleges of their–not their parents’–dreams? Earn them. All parents, even the misguided malefactors at the heart of these cheating scandals, want the best for their children. Real success in life comes from real effort, sacrifice, and even struggle to confront challenges, overcome obstacles, and forge authentic skill and character. If you don’t quite believe that success is connected to hard work, take some lessons from those that have experienced massive amounts of both: The price…

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Who doesn’t love an inspirational advertising campaign featuring an affable icon of insane success? Sports lovers around the world are suckers for tales of toil and sweat. Nike may have pioneered aspirational advertising with its exhortation to “Just Do It,” and marketing that made Michael Jordan much bigger than just basketball, but they only set the pace. Other sports brands–most recently Gatorade with its awesome “Is It In You?” campaign–burn with their own aspirations to connect to driven consumers. Under Armour has grown from a feisty upstart to a global sportswear powerhouse by keying in on what draws people to sports in the first place. Everyone wants to win. With its new “Will Finds A Way” campaign, Under Armour draws a direct line from training, effort, and will to massive victory. Spokesperson Dwayne Johnson seems a veritable paragon of victory, having cut a charismatic swathe through the WWE to the…

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