Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Defining Hard Work in Real Terms

It's funny how we label people and athletes hard workers without ever defining the term. Is it because they spend long hours every day? Are they constantly engaged or just inefficient? If someone plays hard in a game but doesn't practice hard, is that a hard worker? I got to thinking about how we really define this vague and overused term. I also feel hard work alone will never get someone results. Being a creative and critical thinker, combined with hard work, make a vicious duo.

I think it's time we start to set a couple criteria for the term hard worker and see where this goes.

-One word that should always be included with hard work is diligence. The act of persevering to me is the main characteristics of hard work. When you hit a struggle, obstacle or challenge and break through to find a solution, no matter what that is hard work. (This is where we see a lot of kids who put in a lot of sweat but never challenge themselves. They are just spinning at the wheels. They're not hard workers, they just want to appear to be.)

-One who tries devotes most of their time (60-80%) to master the basics of their craft. Do the common things uncommonly. Do some research on this guy you might have heard of.... Jerry Rice.

-One who commits. Mastery comes over time. Overnight success is a flat out lie. Grow up Peter Pan and stop watching fantasy movies. Then go read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

-One who spends purposeful extra time in areas of indirect usefulness, but often will come around to serve them in the long term. If you're a coach, it's probably useful to read self help books like The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. Though there are no anatomy or corrective exercises in the appendix, but it might be the reason you aren't connecting with your athletes.

-One word.... preparation. People appreciate and pay for preparation. Do your homework in advance and make it look good. People appreciate when you can answer the question they have before they've asked it. No one pays to see you wing it unless your one hell of a musician.

One thing about "hard workers" is that they don't even know they're working hard. It's just how they go about everything. They are completely present and mindful in any skill or job they engage in. This is a learnable (made up word on spot) skill that we should look to improve daily, and TEACH to our youth.

These are some of my criteria. What would you add?


  1. effective mindset. one that is practical in knowing the right way to train and how to push yourself, but also positive and focused on your goals at (almost) all times. Obviously bad or negative attitudes just can't go with true hard work and success.

  2. marie,

    Is that working hard or working smart? Or do you consider them one in the same?