The Value of Hard Work

Stephen - San Diego, California
Entered on April 29, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

So often I find myself looking for a shortcut or easier way to solve life’s challenges. Whether I am playing baseball or studying, it appears at first that the best way is the easiest one. However, I learned at an early age that the only way to achieve my true goals is through hard work. Taking my mind and body to the absolute extreme in every situation strengthens my spirit and further equips myself to overcome the tougher challenges in the future.

Since fifth grade, my goal was to go to school and play baseball at Stanford University. Throughout high school I took honors classes and studied for hours upon hours to eventually have the third highest grade point average in my graduating class. I was eventually denied admission into Stanford for I quote “not meeting academic requirements or doing enough community service.” I would have been cheating myself if I didn’t give my best effort. Therefore, despite an undesirable outcome, I learned a valuable lesson that failure is truly impossible when I give maximum effort. I only thought I failed at the time because I was unaware of my real path in life.

As I recall this experience, I realize this is all a part of God’s special plan for me. God wanted to me to go San Diego State University where I would be given the most demanding physical test I have ever experienced. Last year, I attended the first day of fall conditioning for baseball weighing 250 lbs and having an average 88 miles per hour fastball. Three grueling months later, I weighed 215 lbs and my fastball was clocked at 96 miles per hour on the radar gun. I did not expect this dramatic change to occur in such a short time. However, I never stopped believing that as long as I worked as hard as possible every day, I would have been successful no matter what the outcome was. I define this daily outlook as mental toughness.

Mental toughness has enabled me to remain calm and focused in all difficult situations. I realize that whatever happens in the future will never change my past achievements. I receive the greatest satisfaction when I know I have worked harder than the competition. Sometimes the reward is not just defeating my opponent. Knowing I have become a stronger person from a certain challenge is a much greater prize. I strongly believe that hard work always pays off but sometimes the reward is not immediately visible.