hard work pays off

Hard Work Pays Off

Hard work pays off. When I played football in college at Minnesota, Coach Cal Stoll was one of my first CEO-type coaches. Most of the coaches I had previously, such as my high school coach Dave Driscoll, coached the offense or the defense in addition to performing head coach duties. Coach Stoll did not. He hired great assistants and gave them the latitude to coach. He set the vision and direction, motivated the team, and then let assistant coaches do the coaching.

Every year, Coach Stoll held a meeting with the freshmen players. That meeting had a big impact on me. I’ll never forget what he told us.

“You’re going to have to outwork everyone.”

“Every one of you thinks you are going to play in the NFL, right?” he asked. Every head in the room nodded. He pulled out a photograph of the freshmen team from five years prior. The guys who made it to the NFL were circled.

“Him. And him,” he said, pointing to the picture. “Two of them made it. Out of 32, 33, 35, whatever we’ve got this year, only one of you will go on to play in the NFL. If you’re lucky, two. You’re going to have to outwork everybody in this room and then catch a break in order to make your living in the NFL.”

Of course, we each thought we were going to be that one. But success doesn’t come that easily.

“Success is uncommon.”

He continued, “Success is uncommon and not to be enjoyed by the common man. I’m looking for uncommon people because we want to be successful, not average.”

Listening to Coach Stoll, I knew I had a greater chance of becoming uncommon by my efforts than I did by my natural gifts. Some players are uncommon because of their God-given natural abilities, like being blessed with the height of Yao Ming or the vertical jump of Michael Jordan. Others have to work to become uncommon. Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors and former Chicago Bulls player, used to shoot 500 free throws a day to make himself uncommon. He is a great example of how hard work pays off.

And I’m not the only one. Most people have a better chance to be uncommon by their effort than by their natural gifts. Anyone can give that effort in his or her chosen endeavor. But somebody who doesn’t is choosing not to succeed, but only to get by.

Sound off: What are you doing to be uncommon as a father, husband, or in your profession?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it is important to work hard?”