The Irony Of Success: Effort vs Perception

During the height of the pandemic, many people took on learning new skills, like how to bake sourdough bread or play the guitar. My pandemic lark was to enroll in my local college to get a bachelor’s degree in Music.

I just finished my third class. (I am evidently on the 20 year plan). It was a music fundamentals class that was supposed to be an “easy A” but turned out to be quite challenging. Our grade mostly consisted of handing in homework taken out of our class workbook. I spent upwards of an hour for each assignment, checking and double checking that it was correct. My efforts acheived a perfect 100% on most of the assignments.

Obviously I was pleased with the result, but I also knew how much time and effort I had invested into each assignment. That’s why I was surprised and somewhat taken aback when my professor handed back another 100% paper mid-semester with the comment, “This getting too easy for you?”

This is the irony of doing well in life and business. People can only see the results, not the hard work that went into producing it. And when our own results fall short of what looks easy for others, we fall into the trap of comparison and thinking that we’re not as good, talented, smart, or capable as they are. This thinking is reinforced by the many marketers who claim they can show you how “easy” it will be the produce the results they are promising.

Did you know that Babe Ruth, the wunderkind baseball hero who held the record for the most home-runs, also held the record for the most number of strike-outs? And he played a total of 22 seasons – a truly inspiring investment of time and effort to honing his craft.

Facts: success takes time and effort to apply the skills that you’re learning, especially in the beginning. The amount of time and effort will vary based on a lot of different factors. While I’m happy I got an A+ in the class (something I don’t recall accomplishing when I was in college in my 20s), the real reward is what I learned from the effort, and seeing those efforts pay off.

Don’t be discouraged by others who seem to find things effortless. Their path is different from yours, and each person’s journey has its own challenges and triumphs. Stay focused on your growth and keep pushing forward. You’re doing great. Keep going!

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