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The Myth of the Myth of Hard Work

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

I'm up early in the mornings to prep for my day, and some mornings I see one of my favorite newsletters from The Growth Equation in my inbox! Squee!

I get excited when I read the subject line, and I was even more excited to read that the subject on this particular day was "What Hard Work Can (and Can't) Do"

I work hard. I have a history of working too hard. You can accomplish a lot of things with hard work, but without the right mindset and deliberate practice, it will only get you so far. Likewise, the right mindset and intentional practice will only get you so far if you aren't working hard enough. A lot of self-help gurus champion one over the other, but being a wanna-be-Buddhist myself, I like to practice non-duality and I see the middle way where both are necessary to recognize opportunities that arise in your life and to have the wisdom to know which ones are worthy of your attention.. but I digress.

My Thoughts on the Article

If you have time, I would highly recommend giving Steve's article (Hard Work is Necessary but not Sufficient) a read.

The article made my neurons fire with new thoughts at an exciting pace, and it gave me a lot of things to "reply" to. I agree with statements on hard work like, "past a certain level of achievement, you can be pretty sure that everyone is working hard" and I couldn't agree more that we should stop "reducing the complexity of success to something straightforward" and "stop moralizing success and failure." But, when he makes his first conclusion "[Hard work] doesn’t explain much of the difference between two people’s performance." I disagree.

I felt like something that Steve didn't consider, at least in this particular article, is timing. Moreover, what is "hard work" anyway?

On my personal journey from couch potato to contender, I slowly ramped up my hard work through the years. At first, I didn't really "train." I just showed up at local paddle events after paddling a few times a week and would "see how it went." Somewhere along the