Friday, December 2, 2016

Hard Work versus Talent

My teenage kids have been brought up with this quote in the forefront of my parenting and it has been interesting to see how emphasizing hard work has panned out over time.  One is a ballet dancer and one plays hockey.  One is more naturally talented, one struggles a bit more. Both are gifted students going to a rural school that is fine but not particularly challenging.  I have told my husband all along that the extracurricular activities were not an end in themselves but a way for both of them to develop a work ethic doing something they love.  And it has worked.  Both are very self motivated students with very good grades and like all things in parenting, it is a case of so far, so good, with the future yet to be determined.

So, all is good(so far!) on the academic front but it has been interesting to see how things have panned out in dance and hockey.  Money has been spent on extra lessons, clinics, and camps.  Hard work has been emphasized.  And the ugly truth has come out.  Talent that works really hard wins it all.  Period.

The less talented kid came to this conclusion earlier, works hard to be in the middle of the pack, and still loves the activity.  The more talented kid is just coming to the realization that even with the hardest of hard work, the even more talented who work hard will always be better.  A hard pill to swallow but still loves the activity.  The interesting thing is that both have tremendous drive in a lot of other areas of life.  A parenting win.

You might(rightly!) wonder what this has to do with dressage biomechanics.  I guess the answer is that I always wanted to give my kids more financial support for the activities they love than I received growing up.  I always wondered how much better I could have been as a rider with more money behind my work ethic.  After watching my kids I think my answer is better, but still way behind those with even more natural talent, money, AND a work ethic.  Then I look over the course of my life and realize how the drive to excel as rider has carried over into all aspects of my life in such a positive way. Talk about a win win.  


  1. The meme with the car is cracking me up. Are you familiar with the Malcolm Gladwell book Outliers that talks about people becoming experts based on 10,000 hours of deliberate practice? Some dispute it, but my husband and I thought it made a lot of sense. (He teaches math and computer science and it was a required reading thing over the summer a few years ago). Anyway, we talked about how kids don't like math and they're not good at it. . . and how they don't TRY. If they never try to do the work, they'll never get it (when they refuse to practice). I teach in a primarily Asian school and it excels in math. I don't think it's because my students are innately gifted at math--I just know that culturally they are exposed to more math (than the typical public school gives) and they try it and practice. Back to horses. . . I know I will never be an all-star rider because I lack the practice. Riding 3-4 days a week is not going to make me a world class rider (sadly). If I had the MONEY to not work and ride MORE hours (and more horses), then I might be in a better position. I'm with you. . . working hard and applying yourself in one aspect of life is beneficial for all. This is why as a teacher, my best behaved, most responsible, team-oriented classes are the ones which are composed of mainly the music students. The skills they learn being part of a larger group whether band or orchestra carry over into making them generally a more delightful group of young people. And that's my two cents.

  2. Saddle Seeks Horse, love your comments! Interesting to hear a teacher confirm my biases. I totally agree about the math thing as I had one kid that was convinced she was not good at math. With some extra work and creative teaching she now excels and is thinking of going pre-med or engineering and she could have given up way back when "because girls aren't good at math" nonsense. Interesting about the music/band kids as both of mine did/do them for exactly that reason. Thanks for your two cents!