Letters to my kids – Smart or hardworking?

Twelfth in the series – letters to my kids

Hey guys,

I saw this article a while back and thought it was relevant to your activities as school gets ramped up. We always have the discussion about your grades and how they signal things to universities where you can again get good grades to signal future employers or financiers that you are a hard working individual. The thing is though is that those great grades are SIGNALS that you are hard working. I don’t care how smart or not-smart you are, hard work is really all it takes to get the grades. You have to study, figure out how to put up with teachers, figure out how to deal with peers, and figure out how to still find time for the other life experiences you want to explore.

You’ll deal with similar things all your life (regardless of whether you start a company, just work independently, or work for a large fortune 500 company). The skills that your grades are going to signal are skills you need regardless of the grades. You need to be able to be a hard working person to get anything done in life.

I’m not saying that you need to be hardworking 24/7… I am saying that you need to be able to focus your energy and attention on a task. Any task whether it is something you’ve done a hundred times, something that seems unachievable, or something that you just don’t know how to do. The hard work part comes in because regardless you have to go through the boring process of getting it done. The process of breaking those things into small milestones that you can achieve quickly and move on to the next one and keep at it until the task is done. That is hard work – even if you LOVE the hard work.

Heck even just last weekend, I was out for a 13 mile run and it turned out I had diarrhea along the way… I won’t go into gory detail of the 9 miles I ran despite the diarrhea, but I will tell you that it was hard work, I had to focus, set milestones (bathrooms) and do a thing I love (running) to get to those milestones. Only then could I get some temporary relief, a rest if you will, and then get back on the road heading for the next milestone where I knew another relief awaited me. Yeah it sucked at times but it was fun to because I do love running.

Think long and hard about how you approach your work this year, there are many pointless things about how things get done at school – the hardworking part is useful though regardless of bureaucracy.

Love Dad

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