She's Not Lucky: What I Want to Teach My Children About the Value of Hard Work
I have always been an underachiever.
No, I am not that person who barely passed high school, or who didn't make it into college. I have had a pretty successful life overall, but I have nowhere near lived up to my potential.
I was the kid that scored so well on the SAT that she got invited to a special banquet at school. But I was also the kid that cared so little about making good grades that no one expected me to be there. "I don't think you're supposed to be here," a classmate told me. "I think your invitation was a mistake. What did you make on the SAT?" Once I told him, he stared at me, dumbfounded. He mumbled his score in response...and it was lower than mine.
So, he worked hard with what he had and I didn't. But what is a brain without drive? What is talent without perseverance?
All of us have some type of talent or gift. Maybe we are smart or creative or athletic. Some of us have more than one thing that we are naturally good at. We all have things that we aren't good at too.
For instance, no matter how hard I tried at soccer and swim team, I was always just good enough to make the team. I only had a few minutes of play time every soccer game. I never won a single ribbon when I swam.
And that's okay. It is okay to not be good at something. It is okay, rewarding even, to participate in activities that you're mediocre in just because you love them.
But it is okay to be mediocre at the things you are gifted at?
Is it okay that I cost myself easy points in high school because I didn't care enough to do my homework?
Is it okay that I made a D in Greek in college because the quizzes were every Friday morning at 9am, and I wanted to have fun with my friends on Thursday nights, instead of studying and getting to bed early?
I'm not sure it's okay.
One of my biggest strengths is also one of my greatest flaws: I want to enjoy life.
This is a strength because I tend to look at the positives. Because I want to be happy in life and for others to feel the same way, I like to wear rose colored glasses. I am optimistic. I forgive easily. I move on from painful experiences and hurts quickly because I just want for everything to be nice and breezy again.
But this is also a flaw. If something seems too hard, I just don't try. Even if the overall activity or project gives me joy or is my passion, I don't enjoy the day to day work that I have to put in to do my best. Many times I get bored before I get anywhere close to the final product.
And yes for those who are wondering, I do have ADD.
But I don't think that those with ADD are the only ones who settle for mediocre when they could push themselves a little more and become great.
And maybe being just okay is not a big deal. Maybe it is fine to settle for less. But I don't think so. While I think we should have grace for ourselves and others, I do also think that we should pursue our passions day in and day out, doing the hard work that it takes to become better.
I see my negative traits in my children. My oldest will say she doesn't want to do the hard work because it's boring. My youngest has that same "fun trumps all" attitude that I tend to have. But I push them to be better because if they learn to work hard when it's not fun now, maybe it won't be so hard for them when they are in high school and college and when they are an adult.
Because while some seem to have the natural drive to work hard, for some of us, it is a skill that we have to learn.
I'll be honest...sometimes it is hard for me to push them to do the tedious hard work because inside I'm screaming, "This isn't fun!"
But as much as it pains me to admit it, life isn't just about having fun.
And in our culture today, where so many think that everything should be handed to them, perseverance and hard work are skills that we as parents need to teach our children.
No matter what skills or talents they possess, our children will not truly succeed without hard work. They may skate by without trying for a little while, but one day, they're going to get a D in Greek or not make the team or get rejected.
And it won't be because they didn't have the talent. It'll be because they didn't do the work to hone it.
Those who achieve greatness aren't just lucky. They know the value of hard work.
And that is what makes them great.