I know there are situations where no amount of hard work will pay off. Example: I will never be a ballerina.
But for most attainable goals, hard work is the lynch pin for success.
Every now and then, it takes a client or a friend to remind me that I have to be patient. I have to put in the time. I have to do the grind. In a culture more and more accustomed to instant gratification, from fast food, to high speed internet, to freeways, it is harder to grasp the notion that nothing magnificent can be accomplished in a day, or a week, or even a month. Masterpieces are works in progress. Genius is, as Edison said, 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
A man told me recently about a number: 10,000. It’s a real number that represents true genius and accomplishment. Bill Gates, for example, did not create Microsoft overnight. Michael Phelps didn’t sweep Olympic medals without training. Edison did night invent the light bulb without trying to burn every conceivable filament. 10,000, apparently, equates to roughly five years of working 40 hours a week at ones passion. Some of us devote even more time.
Gates, for example, was writing computer code all through his high school and collegiate days before dropping out. Phelps, you can be assured, has been swimming 6 hours a day for his high school and collegiate years. Edison… I won’t even bother citing the hours of this legend.
So when I received an unexpected chat this morning from a dear old friend of mine, Megan Kalmoe, I was pleased and then subsequently surprised when she divulged a few of her recent accomplishments with the United States Olympic Rowing Team. In short, Kalmoe, through years of dedication, perspiration, and tooth and nail perseverance, has accomplished something many, years ago, would have written off as physiologically impossible.
I remember when Kalmoe, a 2008 Olympian and now a serious contender for the 2012 Olympic Games, was fresh to the National Team pool–smaller than the majority of the athletes, and largely, if not constantly overlooked. No matter how she was treated, passed over, left behind, ostracised to off-site housing, isolated in the single, and over-looked in favor of taller stronger athletes, she never quit. Neither did her room mate and doubles partner, Ellen Tomek. What they have accomplished together stands in my mind as one of the greatest achievements I’ve witnessed in real life, with real contact. They were not out-of-this world legendary goddesses (well, now they are!), but real people.
I remember when… it was five years ago. Pursuing a dream for five years, full time, day and and day out. What do you get? 10,000 hours.
Congratulations, Megan Kalmoe.