We have all heard a variation of the age-old saying, ‘Nothing is impossible if you work hard enough.’. Most people uphold this as the gospel truth, and it is hard to argue against the merits of hard work. Dedication to a certain field or discipline is necessary to achieve excellence in it. In his famous self-help/motivational book, Malcolm Gladwell describes his 10,000 hours rule where he argues that persistent efforts into any discipline is essential to obtain perfection (Gladwell, 2008). However, as we think more critically into the subject matter and the nuances of the issue, one cannot help but question if the one and only ingredient for success is hard work alone. Extrapolating the logic of this argument, if this is the case, the student who spends the most time studying for exams should always be the top-scoring one. Is this really the case though? Is there danger to hard work?
The correlation between hard work and results
Clearly, even without any statistical backing, we can observe anecdotally from people around us that the most hardworking person is not always the highest achieving one. Although most psychological studies point to a degree of correlation between hard work and achievement of goals (Asumeng & Assan, 2015), it can be pretty apparent why hard work is not a fool-proof formula for achieving goals. Take school results for example – a student that spends hours every day reading through his Mathematics notes may not necessarily top his class for his Maths class. In extreme cases, he may even struggle to pass despite having put in his best efforts.
Every year at Elevate Enrichment Centre we take under our wings many of such students who fail academically not due to a lack of effort, but due to improper tutelage in school. These students have the heart and motivation to succeed, and often try their best to do well for several compelling reasons (such as wanting to make their parents proud, wanting to carve out a successful path for their future). When reality does not go their way academically, they are often disheartened and suffer big blows to their confidence. Such is the cruel way of learning first-hand early on in life that success does not always come from hard work.
Think Differently- Guidance being the key
We firmly believe that while hard work is a key ingredient, it must be coupled with the right guidance for the fruit of success to truly ripen. In recent times, scholars and experts in the field have critically examined Malcolm Gladwell’s claims of hard work’s merits (Baer, 2014) and seem to agree with us that hard work requires quality tutelage before it can accelerate us towards success.
One of our teachers at Elevate Enrichment Centre is an avid diver, and this principle hits especially close to her heart. There would be very few beginner divers, if any, who would attempt to dive metres below sea level without first properly learning the skills from a master diver because it almost guarantees a certain death. This is regardless of how many times this beginner attempts it. Similarly, blindly applying hard work to school work without first understanding the subject can be counter-productive instead. Let us draw from our wealth of experience and help you out, and you will not have that feeling of despair about your studies ever again! Think differently!
Asumeng, M. A., & Assan, E. (2015). WHAT IT MEANS TO WORK HARD FOR CAREER PROGRESSION: A STUDY OF CORPORATE MANAGERS IN GHANA, 19-34. Retrieved from http://www.eajournals.org/wp-content/uploads/What-It-Means-To-Work-Hard-For-Career-Progression-A-Study-Of-Corporate-Managers-In-Ghana.pdf
Baer, D. (2014). New Study Destroys Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/new-study-destroys-malcolm-gladwells-10000-rule-2014-7/?IR=T&r=SG
Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers.