When Effort Just Isn’t Enough

“E” for Effort – “Give it your best!” – “Hard work will always pay off”

I’d venture to guess you’ve met a challenge or two in your life. You’ve probably also been bested by one. Perhaps you’ve heard a teacher, coach, or parent tell you, “well, you just need to try harder“. Typically, this might be mentioned just after you failed to accomplish something. You may have even offered a cliche excuse/reasoning like, “I tried, but…”. Sometimes, your effort just isn’t enough.

Fact is, MOST people aren’t willing to put in the effort; they’re not disciplined enough to excel over others. Yet they’ll kid themselves into believing they truly gave it their all when they failed. Sometimes they may be right – most times they’re wrong. Because of the shear laziness of others, effort has proven victorious in too many areas. It’s paid off in sports, school projects, and even the business world. But effort isn’t enough if it’s directed the wrong way. You can try all you want, but without some smarts, knowledge, or wisdom – you’ll lose. Practice does NOT make perfect – you need perfect practice!

There’s a generation today who believe their effort (misguided, unharnessed, and unfocused) is good enough to win; good enough for the rest of us to give them credit. They’ll ask for a pat on the back or praise because they simply tried. Since when did just trying receive an award? People may tell you otherwise, but losing is often a good thing. Losing helps us understand things we did wrong. It assures us “that way” didn’t work – maybe there’s another solution. When we realize the direction our effort should go, then we’re on the right track.

New Beginnings

Well the 2010-11 school year is right around the corner. Back to school sales are in full bloom and family vacations are winding down. It’s an exciting time (even though some may not admit it). New faces, new relationships, and new experiences will all soon be coming my way. This year will be a little different for me; each year is. I’ll add coaching duties to my schedule and allow my competitive side to surface more than usual. I look forward to share and archive my new knowledge!

Are You Experienced?

“…Have you ever really been experienced?”
– Jimi Hendrix

In many cases, people gain respect and appreciation by simply putting in time at something. I’d venture to guess there’s a person you work with who’s, “been there forever”. I’m guessing their fairly likable, get their job done and are reliable (always have been). But in other cases, these people should have moved on a long time ago. Not to be mean, but they’re taking up a valuable position a more eager (no, not always younger) person would love to have. How many people can you think of even getting recognition, not for BETTER job performance, but for simply making it year after year? That’s certainly admirable I suppose, as most working adults will change careers multiple times before the age of 30. But when comparing the two characters…who would YOU rather mimic? Would you like to be the employee improving their professional career each year or be the person who’s simply been at their job longest?

I remember being told that 20+ years of repeating your 1st year experience doesn’t make you a successful teacher. True enough. I don’t think any of us would claim optimal performance at anything after only a year. Still, how many of us are determined enough (or have the work-ethic) to keep getting better when we’re surrounded with people getting by on status-quo? The famous words given credit to Einstein say; “the mark of insanity is repeating the same action over and over again, expecting different results.” We all want positive and successful results, but few like the personal change involved to get it. Truth be told, this is a commentary on human nature in many ways. Because we all enjoy our comfort zones and would enjoy better jobs, houses, and overall success in life. And we’d love to wake up one day and see that’s it’s happened with little to zero effort.

See only by learning from, and then adapting/changing from our experiences can we ever claim to be better at what we do! That’s a universal fact. Those of us unable to recognize where we’ve failed or need improvement will always just be “putting in time”. It may be a hippie 60’s song, but we all need to ask ourselves how experienced we really are.

“Attitude is Everything”

I don’t know who said it, but they’re partially right. Not sure I’ll give attitude 100% of the credit for success, but it certainly plays a large role. It’s common to see a bad/poor attitude derail someone with talent, someone with skills in a specific area, or someone who just doesn’t realize how behind they are because of their outlook on life. I wonder if we shouldn’t spend more time teaching this idea?

Then I’ve seen others will little talent, fighting an uphill battle in most all aspects of their life…but thier positive attitude seems to propel them forward. Go figure. I could reference dozens of successful people with crap backgrounds and even crappier upbringings, but what’s the point. Everyone knows Oprah’s story. But all of us personally know someone (a regular someone) who’s “made it” in life by having an upbeat disposition and outlook on things. They made the conscience decision to put on a smile and say, “I can” instead of beating their head against the wall.

A student once told me she’ll never be good at math because her mom sucked at it. I never knew sucking with numbers could be passed on genetically? (I’m sure some idiot scientist will tell me it can). Truth be told, her mom provided a nice cop-out for her daughter due to her own failings, and it’s warped her perception, affecting her attitude. Nice work, Mom. And I wonder how many people have the attitude they do by simple surroundings or messages passed on (either directly or indirectly)? Probably more than we realize.

With a society leaning more and more towards entitlement and finger-pointing, it’s time we put the focus on ourselves and find out what WE can do to better our situation. What messages can WE give ourself to accomplish something…what people can WE hang out with, read books written by, or hear speak that will help our cause? I plan on taking my own advice and spreading it to others. No one can help ME more than I can help ME. A lesson some of us learn too late.

Feb. 22, 1980

“It was a sliver of the Cold War on ice.” – Al Michaels

The “Miracle on Ice” occurred 30 years ago today in Lake Placid, NY. Even after watching every highlight available it still gives me goosebumps when I watch the players and networks take a look back. Still wish they assembled a group of college athletes to work and train together for the games. As much I love watching the superstars of the NHL battle it out, it’s just not the same. Never will be.

(Only issue of Sports Illustrated ever printed to omit a title or caption)