Recognize that success takes hard work, that there will be times when it's hard and painful. As trite as it is, it is true that tough times don't last - IF YOU DON'T GIVE UP - but tough people do.
Never, never, never, never give up!
Listen, I'm not just typing this for exercise for my fingers. The real secret in life is that you can compensate for a whole lot of other disadvantages with hard work. I'm not stupid or naive. I know it is one hell of a lot easier to get into Harvard if you go to college prep schools, have tutors, take special SAT classes and don't have to work during high school. Yeah, it's NOT fair. So, what are you going to do, give up?
I have a good friend, Dr. Erich Longie, who for many years was president of a tribal college. Students would say to him,
"I have three children. I can't afford to go to school full-time. I owe money from when I tried college when I was 18 and dropped out so I can't get any financial aid. If I take one class a semester and pay what I can, it will take me five years to qualify for financial aid again. Even if I do everything - work, pay off my old loans, study, don't fail a class, I won't graduate from college for another eight years."
And Erich would respond,
"So, what? So, you'll graduate in eight years then."
Listen to me. I'm old and one of the advantages of being old is that if you pay attention, you learn things. You are stronger than you think. The people you think are stronger, smarter or more talented than you - they're not. Usually, they just had a head start in life - better schools, better neighborhoods, parents with more money.
I went to Washington University in St. Louis for my bachelors degree. It's a really good school. Because my family didn't have a lot of extra money, but my mom did have two younger kids at home, there wasn't any choice but for me to work full time while I was in school. At the same time, I was competing in judo. At 19 years old, I graduated from college and won the U.S. Open in judo. If I didn't have to work, I'm sure I would have had a better GPA. So, what?
I went on to graduate school at the University of Minnesota because, at the time, there was a good judo club there. I didn't have a car and I HATED waiting for the bus in the snow in Minnesota when it was 10 below zero. Part of that time, I quit competing in judo because I was working full-time and going to school full-time. It was hard but it wasn't really all that terrible. I had friends, I was learning a lot in school. The part I think most people aren't prepared for is how consistent you need to be to succeed, whether it is a sport or academics. I have to be honest, this is the part where a lot of people annoy me, too.
To get a BSBA and MBA, I had to study and work for a total of 5 1/2 years - straight. I'm not whining about it, I'm just pointing out a fact. That's 66 months, or 2,007 days when I worked midnight to 8 am, then was in class by 10. There were weekends I competed in judo tournaments, got back in town at 1 a.m., sore and tired, and, you guessed it, got up and got to the university the next morning.
I've seen too many people who could have been successful but gave up. Often, they seem to have a false idea of how much work or how long it should take. I've heard people over and over say,
"But I worked SO HARD to get a promotion / degree/ championships."
and I think,
So what? Try harder. Try longer .... and if you don't succeed
Try again. (But that's the point of my next post.)