I have two sons, Christian and Connor.
Connor is my youngest at eight years-old. He is so naturally
talented at most things, that my husband and I spend a lot of time
looking at each other wondering where he came from. He was reading the
TV at two, memorizing his time tables at six, and winning his soccer
games almost single handedly by seven. He doesn't really have to study
or practice, he just shows up and shines.
Christian, on the other hand, works his butt off to get the same
results. He has to study and read and re-study and practice to get the
results he wants. He puts hours into practicing soccer to get the same
results as his brother gets with very little practice. He has to read
for two hours to get through the same amount of pages his brother reads
in thirty minutes. He puts out so much effort for the exact same
It is frustrating for him.
All I can do is agree with him. It might be difficult having Connor
as a brother when you are only one year apart and very competitive.
But here is what I have noticed….
Christian knows how to work. That boy can work hard. He has a work
ethic that will carry him very far in this life. He is determined to
be the best he can be and he is willing to put in the time and effort
to make sure that happens.
I try to explain to him what a gift this is. I try to teach him
that working hard and accomplishing things on your own sweat is what
creates the best feeling in the world: pride. He gets to own his
accomplishments from a deeper place because he worked so hard for
them. He is developing his "overcome" muscles. He is learning to
manage his emotions and not let them manage him. He is building the
tools to put in a tool belt that will serve him as a man.
Connor has a much harder time when faced with an obstacle. He is so
used to being the best with so little effort, that when he isn't
"winning" he has a complete fit. He doesn't see that as a cue to work
harder, he sees it as a cue that something has gone wrong. He is much
more apt to quit. He is much more prone to acting out his emotions in
I try to teach Connor the tools I know so he can overcome his life's
obstacles. I coach him. I explain to him that if he can take his
natural talent and combine it with a work ethic, there will be very
little he can't do in this life. It is much harder for him to
understand. His experience and belief system supports things coming
As I watch my boys, who are so very different, I am fascinated. I
know adults who have similiar struggles. I have clients who share
similiar beliefs. As I think about this, I am determined to find a way
to teach both of my kids the value of hard work. Working hard for
yourself and something you believe in is powerful stuff. It feels
amazing. It develops your character.
I am not talking about struggle. I am not talking about the kind of
work that spins you in circles and feels defeating. I am talking about
not feeling sorry for yourself when it doesn't come easily. I talking
about being grateful when you accomplish something that took a bit more
effort than the next person to accomplish.
The truth is…you don't know what went into anyone's accomplishment.
The other day, someone told Christian he was the best nine-year-old
goalie they had ever seen. They said, "It must be wonderful to have so
much talent at such a young age."
Little did they know. Christian made his talent. He created it with hours of practice and very hard work.
When is the last time you looked at someone with "talent" or "success" and thought how nice it must be for them to have so much?
Did you chalk it up to luck or genetics or brains?
Might have just been some old fashioned hard work.
Hard work feels good.
If you aren't already, you should try it.