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Ever know someone who made hard things look easy? … If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Willie Mays. Willie was one of the best outfielders to ever play the game of baseball (24x All-Star, World Series champion, etc.). According to those who watched Willie play, he was known for making difficult plays look easy.
What people often fail to realize is that even gifted athletes like Willie Mays work hard. They come to batting practice early. They stay late to shag fly balls. They study the opposing pitchers. … In short, they combine sheer athletic talent WITH hard work. They make the difficult plays look easy. Why? Because they’ve made those plays in practice hundreds of times. While their teammates (colleagues) are doing other things, champions are working hard. They’re getting up earlier. They’re staying later. They’re studying harder. They’re working out longer.
For certain, there needs to be some balance between work and life outside of work. But in today’s business environment, more often than not, I see people wanting to achieve the fame, fortune, and the results of a champion (like Willie Mays) without the sacrifice. It seems like we want everything fast. We want to move quickly up the corporate ladder, get a big salary, achieve a high level of “success”, and we want to do it overnight. A couple years after we graduate from college would be nice “thankyouverymuch.”
For many years, our family has spent time each summer in the Colorado Rockies. It is a beautiful place. Colorful sunrises and sunsets. High mountain peaks covered with snow. Tapestries of mountain wildflowers. Reflective mountain lakes. … On this day as I began my hike up a nearby mountain, I stopped to take a picture of the early morning fog on a small lake. It was breathtaking. As I continued hiking, I began thinking about the scene I had photographed. How many people saw the early morning fog? How many people (who were physically capable) got out of their car and hiked to the lake? How many people took time to observe their surroundings?
As I continued my long hike up the mountain, I could not shake the questions running through my head. How many people would see the views from the top of this peak? Since there were no roads, the only way up was by foot. No cars. No bicycles. No horses. If you wanted to get to the top, you had to hike. 6 hours round-trip. The views of the Continental Divide and mountain valleys were spectacular. They were definitely worth the climb. But there were few people on the trail. It was challenging. Not many takers.
Without discipline and hard work, there is no brilliance. No excellence. No views. No early morning fog. … Yes, talent helps but the “secret” is hard work. In our search for the exotic, the quick, the cerebral, “hard work” seems blasé. It is old school. Vanilla. Boring with a capital B. The top business schools in the world talk about many things and the leading business journals have tons of great articles, but when was the last time you heard one reference “hard work?”
Willie Mays was an amazing, world-class athlete who combined talent AND hard work. If you want to make difficult plays look easy, if you want to be successful, if you want to see the mountain-top views and achieve excellence, then you must be willing to be disciplined, pay the price, and work hard.
Have you been tempted to find a short-cut to success? Do you find hard work distasteful? Old fashioned? … If so, it might be time to rethink the importance, value, and necessity of hard work.
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.