"Once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder."
- Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of SuccessIn October 2013 The Irish Times wrote a piece here on the Irish rugby player James Hart by the title, 'James Hart’s work ethic at Grenoble opens alternative route to success.' And that's the key point. The assumption that natural gift is the normal route to success, as opposed to hard work. Matthew Syed spoke about that on Radio 4 which I covered here. James Hart explained his story to Peter O'Reilly in The Sunday Times of December 29 2013 here:
"I was on a bus on the way out to a 20s session in Donnybrook when I got the call. The day I got my Leaving Cert results. All I’d been working for was to make the Leinster 20s. It was a real kick in the balls. I just didn’t give up."He explained his move to France and the role of being up close and personal with the senior players at Stade Toulousain:
"I was just in awe of [Byron Kelleher and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde]. I used to love watching the two of them pass and kick. Kelleher was so physically impressive. Elissalde was just so smart in the way he read the game and could kick off either foot. That summer I read one of Jonny Wilkinson’s books and it kind of made sense to me. I knew I had a bit of natural talent but I knew that if I was going to make anything of myself, I’d have to work extremely hard. So that’s what I decided... I’d have been bored out of my tree at weekends. I used to just have a bag of balls and kick and pass, I don’t know for how long. It was just what I used to do when I was bored. I suppose all those hours add up. At the start I found it tough. I wasn’t really playing well. I was thinking, ‘Am I really that good?’ And sometimes I wanted to go home. I rang my mam and told her: ‘I can’t do this.’ You’ve got to hold your own, though. I’d be upset for a little bit and I’d tell myself: ‘You’ve got to keep working. Maybe something will happen.’"Bernard Jackman gave his take on James Hart here:
"Lots of players want to be great but not many are willing to put in the hours and hours of practice that it takes. I’ve never seen anybody train as hard as James Hart. He has made himself an unbelievably good, technical player. He’s picture perfect."Read my blog post on Christopher Hitchens and his definition and secret to success here, where he said:
"I became a really hard worker. A person of almost iron self discipline. I built my own workspace at home. I never went to an office anymore. I didn't hang out with people at lunch. Got on with it. If I wasn't reading, I was writing."We can also look to this quote by unknown:
"Successful people aren't born that way. They become successful by establishing the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don't like to do. The successful people don't always like these things themselves; they just get on and do them."My previous posts on the need to redefine our definition of success with Maria Popova here, with Matthew Syed here, with Matthew Syed again here, with Dan Pink here, with Washington educationalist Michelle Rhee here, and with Sir Ken Robinson here. My posts on creativity with Charlie Rose here, with Aleks Krotowski on combinatorial creativity here, on networked knowledge here, here, with Giles Coren here, with Sinead O'Connor here, with Muriel Rukeyser here and on coffeehouses as crucibles of creativity here.