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“There is no substitute for very hard work.”

-Coach John Wooden

Effort Defined: “working energetically and devotedly”

There are many synonyms for effort such as hard work, grit and grind. I’ve always been a fan of John Wooden’s term “industriousness”. Not a word we throw around that much anymore, but what I like about it is how he breaks it down: “Careful planning and very hard work.” I love that, “very” hard work. Most of us get that, but what about the “careful planning”? Similar to the two part definition of “grit” being “perseverance and passion”, “careful planning and hard work” go hand in hand to make all of the difference. We like to say, “Have a plan.” When you show up to put in work do yourself a favor and have a plan to follow. Work smarter and harder!


Grantland Rice, a sportswriter and poet, understood this fundamental characteristic of achievement. He described it in his poem How To Be a Champion:


You wonder how they do it, You look to see the knack. You watch the foot in action, Or the shoulder of the back. But when you spot the answer, Where the higher glamours lurk, You'll find in moving higher, Up the laurel-covered spire, That most of it is practice, And the rest of it is work.


Great effort must also be sustained over time. This reminds me of the "pump story" I experienced as a teenager. Every now and then I would play golf north of Kearney, Nebraska. The course was hot, dry and barren. I would get really thirsty and by the 15th hole or so there was this old pump. Each outing I would try to pump it several times, but always in vain, or so I thought. One day my dad joined me and when we got to the pump I told him not to bother since it didn't work. He smiled and told me to start pumping. I said, "But dad..." He gestured for me to be quiet and just keep pumping. Eventually, after many several pumps, water started to flow...and flow it did! It was pouring out like Niagara Falls. Thanks to the encouragement of my father I learned a valuable lesson that day, "Success equals effort over time.” Staying power has a lot to say about who we are as a result of what we've done.

Effort and Success


In the battle of life it is not the critics who count; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errors and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst if he fails, at least fails daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have tasted neither victory or defeat.

By Theodore Roosevelt

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