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Are efforts being truly recognized? How important is such recognition?

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I remember watching this Korean Drama called "Dream High", and one of the lines uttered by one of the judges was exceptionally impressing. He said, "We don't need people who just try and work hard. We need people who can do it and make the cut."

Hearing him say that, my whole mind was like, Woah, that was so harsh dude.  I thought that efforts should be recognized, and the due accolade should be given to the people who try so hard. That was what I thought. That is still what I have been thinking till recently.

But of late I have come to realize in the midst of my deep thought that perhaps our society doesn't notice efforts enough. I am not sure, it is just my opinion and I assure you that you are free to repudiate it. Think about it, like I had thought about it in the steamy, thought-provoking bathroom: What if Einstein had never made his discoveries? What if Einstein had never made the equation of E=MC^2, and perhaps never ever gotten famous? Afterall, he is famous for his achievements, and only when his achievements are known are his efforts then brought to light.

Look at the great scientists and famous entrepreneurs that we all know. Think about the people we are familiar with, like Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates... and the list goes on. Each of them are representative of one area that they had placed much effort in, and subsequently succeeded in. Edison is well known for his dauntless attempts in inventing the light bulb. Would his hundreds and hundreds of attempts be named if he had not succeeded in creating the final light bulb that worked? Would we be interested in Steve Jobs if he was not married with Apple Company? It seems almost like every famous people (at least those I know), is tied to their achievements, and when they are divorced from their achievements, they become just another person in the relentless crowd.

We are interested in famous people's biography, and we simplify the process it took for them to achieve their results and cast all their pains and efforts under the umbrella terms of hardwork, determination, perseverence, fearlessness, thinking out of the box.

It seems almost as if we are suggesting this one simple idea:

"If you work hard, if you persevere, if you are determined, then you will see results, and you will succeed."

I mean, why not right? After all, all the aforementioned people work hard, held fast to their dreams and they went against all odds and overcame all obstacles to rise above the crowds. But think again, when we applaud these icons of determination and endurance for their "hardwork", are we really recognizing their efforts, or are we recognizing their achievements and therefore acknowledging that yes, they had indeed poured heart and soul into them?

Will you read the autobiography of a common man whose name you have never heard of, one who has an average salary and mainstream car, one who worked from nine-to-five to support his family and goes on holiday once a year and had never really, in everyone's eyes, "stepped out of his comfort zone to pursue his dreams"? Or will you rather read the autobiography of one man who overcame all hardships and all obstacles in life, dropped out of high school and went against his parent's wishes to finally become (I don't know, I am saying hypothetically) the CEO of some big conglomerate? I myself would rather read the latter, for I am curious to know how he, despite all the setbacks, managed to scale the heights and finally settle himself into the throne of success. I would want to admire his character, learn from him, emulate him and hopefully find inspiration that can one day shape my character enough for me to live my own version of a success story.

Maybe you would say that the effort undertaken by the now-CEO is much greater, much more so than that of the common man. But how would you know if the common man had not put in as much effort, or maybe even more for his to lead his average life? Again, maybe you are right; or maybe you are just making a hasty assumption like I would have done, that is, "the greater the amount of effort put in, the greater your achievement".

Food for thought: Is success directly proportional to the amount of effort we put in?
Is success directly proportional to the amount of effort we put in? If not, why are we (usually) judging the amount of effort put in by a person based on his or her level of success?

Undeniably, there is a strong correlation between hard work and success, but surely achievements are not determined by hard work alone, and neither are achievements a good yardstick for recognizing efforts. Think about the ranking system in schools, where they recognize the (flawed assumption) efforts of the top students. It is really recognizing the achievements. Such a topic and idea is highly contentious too: is it possible to divorce hard work and achievements, such that hard work can be acknowledged on its own without the overshadowing silhouette of success?

I remember my Secondary Four Language Arts teacher discussing this during our lessons. She asked if it was possible to give out awards that recognize the students' efforts instead of achievements. But the question is, how then would the candidates be chosen? Effort is a term as ambiguous as things like love and hate; its effects are barely tangible and often overlooked. If hardworking candidates were to be chosen, it would also mean that the teacher would have to know each student well enough, or maybe even conduct spot checks at their home to catch them working hard. That would again bring about another round of complications which includes the fairness of the teacher, the integrity of students, how "efforts" are to be measured, etc. The most worrying problem is of course when the student is awarded the "Most Harworking Student Award" but not "Top Ten In School" (or similar) award; would the student be teased and tormented by the classmates for her/his supposedly lower intellect? Is that also why there is a proliferation of closeted muggers all around, to spare themselves the unflattering title of "hardworking but ..."?

I am not advocating the idea of "slacking" or "sleaziness" or "laziness" as some would put it. I am trying to postulate the argument that yes, your efforts may not get recognized by your teachers, or by your peers, or worse still, not even recognized by you own parents, but that doesn't give you the right to not work hard. That's right, you hard work won't be considered "hard work" by people who don't know you until you are famous one day and land yourself as "The 100 Most Influential People In The World". We don't need others to recognize the efforts that we put in for ourselves. But you have to know that all your hard work is recognized by one person. That one person who is with you wherever you go, that one person who cries at your sorrow and cheers at your joy; that one person who bears witness to all your hard work (or the lack of it), that one person who remembers and reminds you of the amount of effort you have truly put in.

That person is you.

And that is more than enough.


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