One of the things that gives me hope for the future of this country is our reverence for hard work. We like to believe that people have the skills and success that they have because they have worked harder than the rest of us. It’s not like we think of ourselves or our neighbors as lazy, but we all would like to believe that if we had the focus, the support, the training, and the dedication, we could play golf like Tiger or ride a bike like Lance.
Like Shakespeare’s Cassius, we blame ourselves rather than our stars for falling short. We respect Tiger Woods, Jerry Rice, Lance Allworth, Cal Ripken, and a host of others because they work so hard. Certainly all of these people had undeniable talents, but most of us are pretty good at a lot of things. Sometimes that even includes our work.
I like my work, and I am at least reasonably good at most of it. However, I know I could be better at everything I do. Part of the reason is that I want to do a lot of things, and being really good at something, good like Tiger is at golf or Lance is at bicycling,
You have to focus your life on that one thing, if that thing is physics, music, math, golf, or a whole list of other activities, you have to make that decision before you are out of your teens. In most cases, you have had to already have done a considerable amount of work to be qualified to make that decision. Almost without exception these days, the young superstars have shown a depth of dedication and commitment to focused work that shames most adults.
I don’t think Americans are alone in their reverence for hard work, but I do believe that we have more faith that hard work makes a difference. We all know that you can work your butt off and fail, but that does not keep us from believing that our efforts can affect the outcome.
Hard work may not save us, but it is still our best bet. That is our common faith.