Hard work, key to success
Why doing it again… and again is the only way forward
By Aditi Raman Shridhar
Repetition is the mother of all skill.” ~ Tony Robbins, author of Unlimited Power.
Talent, connections, and money can help you get where you want to go in life–but those things alone won’t do it. You also need to work hard to be truly successful.In a day and age when the population has exploded by gigantic proportion from before, and more people are getting good education and working harder to grab the best colleges, the best jobs, the best positions in every competitive field whether in sports, arts, business or politics; it is no longer enough to be smart and talented in order to succeed. There is an insane amount of hard work required to even be at par with the majority of the competition thriving around you.
Robbins puts it very candidly in his book: If you want to be a great golfer you need to practice your swing, over and over. If you want to be a great pianist you need to practice your scales, over and over. If you want to be a great at anything you need to practice it, over and over. If you want to be a great salesperson you need to practice your sales skills, over and over.
The capacity to work hard and consistently perform at a peak level is not inborn, but a quality that is cultivated over time. Any individual who begins the journey of intense work ethics starts slow and fails multiple times but never gives up. Eventually, they become the very embodiment of the character they are trying to achieve. For example, young boys who enroll into the Shaolin Temple in China come with dreams to become the greatest Kung Fu masters of all time and to dedicate their lives to perfecting Kung Fu. But the journey starts slow. First, they follow strict timetables, then hard martial arts training and then repeated practices of what they learn every single day only to move from a beginner’s level to the second. Twenty or more years of intense mental and physical training is undergone to simply learn the basics of what Shaolin Temple signifies: Grit, Focus, Calm, Composure, a warrior mindset and World Class Kung Fu.
Building a strong work ethic starts from a person’s individual will to train themselves in such a way that hard work becomes second nature to them. Hours of unwavering focus, motivation, finishing tasks in time and of high quality and the willingness to improve more is only the foundation of a strong work ethics.
Focus and Persistence: People with a good work ethic have the ability to stay focused on tasks for as long as necessary to get them done. The best basketball player of our generation, Kobe Bryant embodies this characteristic. His teammates and coaches have been outspoken about his insane work ethic. Kobe, they say, trains for 7-8 hours individually before team training sessions and practice matches. He has been spotted practicing his moves and building his body for hours on end simply to outwork his rivals and be better prepared for his tournaments than they are.
In an interview, when a journalist asked Kobe about why he puts himself through crazy hours of training, Kobe replied, “Why Not! I train 4am to 8am, eat breakfast, sleep, then train again from 12 to 2 pm, then again from 5 to 9 pm’. This way I am always more prepared than my rivals. As a competitor in a tournament, why would I not want to keep myself in the most advantageous position? A strong work ethic only makes more sense to me. You need many hours to practise to perform at peak levels. It is as simple as that.”
Being Punctual and Finishing Tasks Efficiently: People with a strong work ethic do not procrastinate and instead immediately tackle their work tasks. In addition to getting to tasks right away, a good work ethic involves doing things properly. Employers do not want to see sloppy and incorrect work and may question the work ethic of people who produce poor quality work. A great example for this would be Hollywood Actor Dwayne Johnson. “If my movie shoot is at 7am, I wake up 4 hours before that, hit the gym, do intense body trainings and build up my body, prepare myself for the shoot and I am always a couple of minutes before time,” Johnson said in an interview when asked about his discipline.
Being punctual is key to making a good impression. Showing up late for work can signal to employers that you are not devoted to your job.
Being Professional: Being professional means more than wearing business attire. Professional includes demeanor, attitude, and values. People who want to develop a good work ethic should practice being cordial and positive and should always refrain for partaking in gossip. Professionals are respectful of others and work to develop a reputation of being an honest, hard worker.
Creating a Work Life Balance: While it is important to show your employer that you are willing to work hard, it is important to create a healthy work life balance. Working too much can cause you to become overwhelmed and start messing up work. Getting enough sleep and taking the time need to recharge and relax is very important.
A FEW INSANE WORK ETHIC STORIES
Despite their obvious gifts, successful people like Kobe Bryant, Tim Cook, and Sheryl Sandberg wouldn’t be where they are today without having insane work ethics.
- Apple CEO Tim Cook: Gawker magazine revealed that Cook emails his employees at 4.30 in the morning. He is the first in office and last to leave.
- Mark Cuban, owner of Dallas Mavericks: Cuban wrote on his blog that when he started his first company, he used to stay up until 2 am, reading about new software and he did not take a vacation for 7 years.
- Mary Barra: She started at the bottom of General Motors at age 18, when she enrolled in an engineering college sponsored by the company. She spent half the year inspecting parts at a Pontiac Plant, Fortune Magazine reported. She rose to the top of the company after 33 years. In 2013, her dedication was rewarded when she was named GM’s first ever female CEO.
- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: He worked 12-hour days, seven days a week, and was up until 3am to get books shipped.Bezos personally emails teams about customer service issues and has them present directly to him about how they’re going to solve them.
- Venus and Serena Williams, Tennis superstars: They used to practice at 6am in their childhood. They went on to win 28 Grand Slam singles championships between them.
- NBA legend Michael Jordan: He spent his summers taking hundreds of jump shots a day.His coach Phil Jackson wrote that Jordan was gifted but it was his hard work that made him a legend. When Jordan first entered the league, his jump shot wasn’t good enough. He spent his off seasons taking hundreds of jumpers a day until it was perfect.In a piece at NBA.com, Jackson writes that Jordan’s defining characteristic wasn’t his talent, but having the humility to know he had to work constantly to be the best.
- WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell: The chief of advertising giant WPP is described by Financial Times as a “notorious workaholic and micro manager.” His typical workday begins at 6am and he responds to emails at nearly every hour all night and day.
Today’s column is not about pushing you to work insanely as these top performers as it requires much more than simple motivation to achieve a dream. But we can all realize how much work and will power and the drive to keep improving goes into the pursuit of a goal and we can all strive to just be better and cultivate these habits among us.
Aditi Raman Shridhar is an Indian writer and health and wellness expert.