“I’ve viewed myself as slightly above average in talent. And where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic.”
Will Smith, the famous actor and musician, said that. He knows that talent only gets you so far. Fame only gets you so far. Connections only get you so far.
But a ridiculous, sickening work ethic? That will take whatever talent you have farther than anything else. That work ethic will get you someplace.
That’s one of the reasons I work so hard to get the hard work message to the kids at Steve’s Club: hard work in the gym and outside the gym can become their ticket out of the hood. Once you learn the discipline of going hard and persevering, then you come back again and you learn resilience. Combine those elements in the gym and they will automatically transfer to your work outside the gym. Sets of thrusters and pull-ups have an effect on mindset that is absolutely contagious. Keep working hard and you got a shot at getting off the mean streets and into a better way of life.
It’s not an easy road, to do the hard work or to preach it. Working with kids from the inner city all these years, I’ve learned that many of them fall into the trap of thinking that their best chance of success is becoming famous. They want to do one thing and start at the top: professional athlete, rapper, sneaker designer, etc. They’re willing to buy the social hype that our media offers: get famous and get yours, hard work optional.
But that’s a fantasy. Those kids from the poor neighborhoods don’t have equal footing with the kids from the rich neighborhoods. They don’t have the advantages of a pampered youth and a comfy landing if they fail. The streets are much tougher than that – mistakes have very real consequences, sometimes you pay with your life. And for every LeBron James, there are millions of kids who won’t make millions. But our media feeds that fantasy of chasing fame and you’ll have easy achievement, and thereby sets these kids up for failure and disappointment.
We can do better. We can set these kids up for success and happiness. But it won’t come easy. They’re going to have to do the work, and they will need role models who are willing to teach them about hard work and why it matters.
And that means people like you and me, people who care about kids and communities. People who are willing to show these kids the honor of getting a high school diploma and learning a trade, or getting into a community college and working their way through, maybe even starting their own business.
It all starts with hard work. This is the guidance and advice these kids need to hear, and it’s a message that we will continue to do our best to drive home in our local Steve’s Clubs across the country. Work hard, do the right thing. Good things will happen.