“Success” Isn’t the Reason You Should Work Hard
The value of grit isn’t results-based.
Hard work has been getting a bad rap lately.
People are incredibly fed up with the idea that working hard will make them successful, happy, or fulfilled, and they’re starting to get pissed off about it.
Even just telling people to “work harder” is a great way to start fights regardless of whether you’re talking to strangers on the internet or family at a dinner party. The concept of “working harder” divides people into social categories based on how much they believe in the power that hard work to impact their success and happiness.
By doing this, we’re missing the point of hard work.
Grinding at something, becoming grittier, and putting in hours of hard work at something doesn’t guarantee you anything tangible. Zip. Nada. Squat. You get nothing by working hard. So yes, the American Dream is a lie, butso is the idea that hard work is pointless. Everyone is partially wrong. Even me, I bet.
How confusing is that?
The Cult of Serial Un-Productivity
Ever heard of the Anti-Influencer Influencer Club?
Probably not, because I just made the term up. However, you probably know just the influencers that I’m talking about. You’ve probably seen their blogs, watched their videos, or seen them on social media.
Seemingly in response to loud-mouthed, obnoxious internet entrepreneurs (not calling anyone out, but Gary Vee and Tai Lopez come to mind), there’s become a new subsect of “motivational” content creators who are the Deadpools of their field. They’re motivating you with anti-motivation.
This self-aware group of content creators doesn’t subscribe to the same ideas of their annoyingly productive counterparts, and they’ve had enough with being told to take cold showers and read a book a week and start side-hustles to fund their side-hustles.
They don’t want you to give your all. They encourage quitting. They don’t push themselves to extreme limits and they don’t want you to either. They’re frustrated that hard work hasn’t netted them the proper fruits for their labor, they want a freaking break. They’re “tired”.
I know this because, well, I’ve been that writer before.
But just like the “cult of productivity”, just because someone says something doesn’t make it good advice. Extreme views are typically a bad place to look for the truth, especially when it comes to something as subjective as hard work and productivity.
The truth is, there’s still a lot of value in hard work and being gritty as heck, even if you’re a catastrophic failure.
Grit Isn’t About Winning
I’ve written quite a bit about Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverancesince I first read the book back in February, and I think I’m just finally starting to understand why “grit” matters at all.
Being gritty might increase your odds of becoming successful, but it still doesn’t guarantee that you will succeed. Grit is not a trait that is only available to successful people. It might be a tough pill to swallow, but you can be a gritty failure. I know quite a few of them in my own life, to be honest. Heck, I’ve even been a gritty failure for most of my life.
But that doesn’t make grit a bad thing.
The problem isn’t with grit, the problem is with a culture that’s obsessed with success. The problem is that from the time we’re children, we’re conditioned by our teachers, parents, and just about everyone who comes into our lives to have a performance-based identity.
Grit itself isn’t a good or bad thing. It exists whether you want it to or not. However, the expectations that we have for what grit can do for our lives might be wrong. Hard work’s value isn’t always tangible, and sometimes it feels like a pointless waste of time.
You should do it anyway.
Hard Work Will Make You Believe In Yourself
Of all the thousands of athletes that participate in college sports, less than 2% ever go on to compete professionally for any amount of time.
Even fewer than that go on to have “successful” professional sports careers.
If you’re a high school athlete, your odds of playing professional sports are far less than 1%. This study suggests that it’s about .015%.
So what’s the point of even trying? If you’re probably going to fail, why work hard at all? Are the “life lessons” from sports really that valuable? The answer is a resounding yes.
Though many of us might fail at becoming professional athletes, writers, or reaching the top 1% of any field that we choose to “compete” in, we can still develop incredible self-belief through hard work alone. The self-belief that comes from hard work isn’t developed in becoming successful or becoming a champion, it comes from the small battles that we fight every day. Anyone can do it, no matter how successful or unsuccessful they are.
Even though he’s kind of a jackass, there’s a reason that Jordan Peterson tells people to “clean their room”. Working hard isn’t necessarily going to make you successful and it won’t fix the world’s problems, but it just might give you the momentum to get out of bed on a day where depression, anxiety, and your own personal struggles are holding you back from even taking a shot at the dreams you hold so dearly.
I mean, isn’t it at least worth a try? Is giving up really a better alternative?
I’ve competed in nearly a thousand grappling matches in my life. I’ve won hundreds. My athletic success is in part due to my hard work, but there are countless other factors, like IQ, luck, genetics, and the privilege to grow up in a situation where I could pursue sports at the highest possible level.
That’s why I don’t really feel qualified to tell anyone that hard work is going to make them successful. I can’t guarantee that.
However, I’ve also struggled with Major Depression for literally my entire life. Without my hard work, grit, and ability to persist through the suck, I’d never have developed the self-acceptance and self-belief to even try any of the things that I get to write about, much less do them. Self-belief is my biggest weakness, and my grit is my first line of defense.
Believing is a crucial part of the battle to become successful, but it’s also the reason hard work is so important. With grit, you can become self-accepting through success or failure, and you can teach yourself to accept the work you’ve put on the table. Regardless of whether or not it’s “enough” by society’s standards.
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5 of My Favorite Hip-Hop Lyrics
As stated by a random white boy from the Midwest, so you know this is good information.
“Before my time starts to wind down like the Mayans
I show 'em how I got the grind down like a science” - “The Fire” by The Roots
“Sometimes I just feel like, quitting I still might / Why do I put up this fight, why do I still write / Sometimes it’s hard enough just dealing with real-life” “8 Mile” by Eminem
“I found my niche, you gon' hear my voice
'Til you're sick of it, you ain't gonna have a choice
If I gotta scream 'til I have half a lung
If I have half a chance, I'll grab it—Rabbit, run!” — “Rabbit Run” by Eminem
“The darkest nights make the brightest stars.” — “Kindest Regards” by Witt Lowry
"No matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep your head up and handle it." — “Me Against the World” by 2Pac
“You're worth it, and when you feel weak
The deeper the trench, the higher the peak
See y'all are a piece of my legacy
Cause you believe we can be anything and I wanna be... me” — “Dreaming With Our Eyes Open” by Witt Lowry
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Wishing you the best,