Many high school locker rooms are decorated for the sports they serve. My tennis locker room is no exception.
Our decorations include tennis art in addition to a year round Christmas tree, a pinata named Paul, and an inspirational quote by Taras Brown:
“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard,” it says, and reminds me so every day.
This motivational wall decoration is more than paint, and my coach abides by the principles it asserts. Coach often reminds us that we’re the hardest working team in our district, even if we’re not the most talented. Usually, he says this while making us work out in the heat of the Texas sun.
That rigorous training definitely pays off, because even if my opponent has strokes like Serena Williams, without hard work, her talent is limited. Life involves a lot of endurance; if you don’t have the willpower, it’ll probably be a little harder on you than you’d like.
People indeed are born with natural talents for the purpose of blessing their fellows in this life. Talents are a way God shows Himself through us. But in the end, He cares much more about what we do with what we were given.
Some are born with amazing talents, and often they do excel, but not as well as they could. One of these is a teammate of mine who is naturally talented in both tennis and academics. However, in her free time, she doesn’t practice or study. It’s interesting, because she could easily be in the top ten of her class and #1 on her team. As it sits, she is rather average in both and also quite unhappy in her life. In my life, hard work has not only helped me succeed, but has also given me a measure of confidence and satisfaction.
It’s heartbreaking to see people settle for good, while just some extra studying or practice could easily help them reach great.
Don’t get me wrong. Talents are special and enrich life; including the ability to play violin, to speak eloquently, to dance well. But, all the greatest people in history who had outstanding talents held one other thing in common: they worked as hard as they could.
There is certainly something divine about the ability to persevere. People who are “tough as nails” or “live by the sweat of their brow” have a special kind of talent. This isn’t the kind of talent you can watch videos about on Youtube. This kind of talent is called willpower.
My father taught me, “As long as you’re walking around on this planet, you might as well put everything you’ve got into it.”
Playing the piano is a joy for me. Truth be told, I’m not very talented. Now that I’m in high school and have no time for lessons, however, I find myself playing every day. It takes me a lot of practice to get a song down. I’m not much of a sight-reader. Preparing to accompany my sister on violin or the choir takes me weeks and hours on the bench. Yet, I still love it. Working harder is a simple decision for me, knowing the end result will be beautiful. Who cares if it takes me longer to get there?
Currently, AP Physics class is one of the places where my ability to work hard is paying off. My physics teacher knows we are mostly relying on work over talent, and has all four walls of his classroom covered in inspirational quotes.
One of these is simple, but illustrates an ideal we can use to our advantage in life: “It isn’t what happens to you. It’s what you make of it.”
In the final judgement, what the Lord is going to take into account most is your actions. He doesn’t judge you by what talents you were given, but what you do with them. Since the only thing we truly own in this life is our will, we might as well align it with Christ’s and accomplish something more.