Let's imagine a scenario. John and Jane are in the same class and they took a math exam recently. John got 80 marks and Jane 40. We naturally congratulate John for his good results and at the same time, lament that Jane should work harder. We assume that Jane, because he didn't get a better result, didn't put in enough effort and hard work. It's really very easy to assume that, and don't say that thought didn't creep inside your mind at all. Being a tutor, I made such quick judgement all the time. Sometimes, it's really true, but what about the times that are not?
Let's clarify this by looking at another scenario. Car A is a better quality car and superbly well designed. Its maximum speed is 200 km/h. Car B is an inferior car, and its top speed is 120 km/h. In a particular race, Car A sped off at 150 km/h at 75% effort, and Car B put in maximum speed of 120 km/h, putting in maximum 100% effort. You can't see the effort. You only saw:
Car A: 150 km/h
Car B: 120 km/h
Therefore Car A is faster and therefore better.
But if you open your eyes a little, you'll 'see':
Car A: Puts in 75% effort
Car B: Puts in 100% effort
|Berry Hard work (by JD Hancock)|
I wanted to point out that if we only look at the results, we might not be able to see the effort needed to produce the set of results. Ultimately, do we praise the outcome achieved or do we praise the effort? In scenario 2, do we praise Car A because it is running at higher speed than Car B, or do we praise Car B because it is putting in maximum effort, regardless of the results? Well, results are easily observable, easily measured and easily comparable, whereas efforts are often hidden and invisible to most unless you're a observer who is privy to the inner circle. Effort isn't readily measurable too. Heck, most times I don't even know what's the maximum effort possible until I push my limit till breaking point.
I have students who are very smart and integrates new information very easily. The only problem is that they are not diligent and putting enough hard work to realize their potential. Potential is just that, more maybe and possibly than certainty. Yet there are some others who work really really hard, often doing the same practice papers again and again just so that they can get it into their mind. It is really sad when I see the latter group (i.e. the hard workers) not performing better than the former (i.e. the smart workers). I feel for them, because nobody sees their effort that is put in and only saw the results that they achieved. Little did people know the immense amount of effort needed to be done by them just to pass the paper.
The worst thing that the hard workers can do is to assume that since working hard is not going to bring them results, they might as well not try. For the smart workers, the worst thing that can happen is that since doing minimum effort can bring good results, they'll put in enough effort just to get by.
What do I believe in? I believe that intelligence is not fixed. Intelligence can be grown by investing in it. You may be born smart, and that's a slight advantage over others who are born average. No doubts about that. But hard work and diligence trumps intelligence in the long run, because you have to constantly force your mind to go beyond its comfort level. It's like a muscle that keeps training until failure, only to grow stronger again. Knowing that you have the ability to grow smarter by working harder seems to be a better world to believe in than a world where your future is determined by your IQ that you're born with and nothing in the world is going to change that.
The next time you pass judgement on others, think about the hidden, un-measurable, incomparable effort that is put in to achieve the visible, measurable and comparable outcomes. This is a good reminder to myself for life in general.