The Pursuit of Diligence and Perseverance

We’ve all been in the same boat before. Every time we take a test in an especially difficult class, we all remain hopeful for a curve that’ll help boost our grades…until we’re reminded of that one kid who just has to get a perfect score and screws us over. Don’t deny it. Despite all the hate we pile on the kid for sinking our hopes, deep inside, we all wish we were that kid, who’s always idolized by every teacher on campus and just breezes through every class while getting the best scores. Every. Single. Time. But instead of wishing we were Sahil or Margaret, we should focus more on the motivation and diligence exercised by such people.

Most people assume that being “smart” means spending a small fraction of their day doing school related things like homework and studying, leaving them a lot of time to have a life and do what they want. However, we’ve never realized that these “smart” people may actually spend more time on schoolwork than the average person. They study just as much as, if not more than, their peers and often take the time to explain a single concept many times in one day to different people. So, while some may not seem to “study” by re-reading the book, they’re constantly reviewing the materials when they explain something to their peers.

As Aristotle said, “Teaching is the highest form of understanding,” and because my friends apparently find my brain to somehow resemble a computer and ask me to teach them, I can say with a clear conscience that it’s true. While helping my friends, I’m often forced to reorganize my knowledge and make new connections so they can understand. After a while, I start developing a deeper understanding of the materials myself, which lets me apply the concepts to a broader range of questions. However, while grades in school are, by far, a superficial representation of a person’s capabilities, people still use them as a convenient scale of “smartness.” In school, where the “No Child Left Behind” motto left its mark in lowered standards, the smart and the diligent often can’t be distinguished by their grades. But in extremely competitive situations, only the diligent will prevail. For example, in the world of business, only approximately 20% succeed the first time, 35% for the experienced (Gilbert).

With such high chances of failures, surely the successful ones are masterminds out of Ivy Leagues. In reality, only some came from distinguished schools (Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett), others dropped out of college (Steve Jobs and Bill Gates) while others never even had formal education past elementary school (Wang Yung Ching). How is it possible for people from such a wide range of education to ultimately reach a common goal? These people were able to make their way through the world because they had two things in common: perseverance and drive. Perseverance and drive.

It’s easy to say, but once people start to understand everything without trouble, they’re no longer motivated to put forth their best effort. They start believing they’re the best. They think nothing’s worth their attention. They start becoming more and more stuck-up. But this attitude leads to near-certain failure and disappointment. In my Science Olympiad experiences, I’ve witnessed extremely smart people, straight-A students normally idolized by their peers, end up doing quite terribly in competition because they belittled their competitors, thinking that it would be an easy win for them. So, while having an exceptionally sharp brain can give a head start, it’s not infallible. Hard work, however, always pays off. It’s simply Nature’s way of evening the playing field.

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