There is an unfortunate truth that has very suddenly become apparent to me: in order to achieve anything of any merit, you have to work hard.

There is an unfortunate truth that has very suddenly become apparent to me: in order to achieve anything of any merit, you have to work hard.

Clearly this is not a novel concept I’ve stumbled upon. But having fully entrenched myself in the tasks of surviving my senior year and making decisions as to what to do with the my life, I’m finding that I’ve never really had a grasp on what it means to work hard for something. I suspect this is true, not only for my fellow teenagers, but for most people living and working today.

Now, I’m not going to go on a rant about how no one knows how to work hard these days, and how those darn kids with their techno-machines just don’t appreciate the value of old-fashioned effort.

People do know how to work hard these days. Don’t tell the high school student who gets straight A’s, plays three sports, is the president of two clubs, and holds a part-time job that teenagers don’t know how to work.

I’m definitely not referring to myself there, by the way. I stand in awe of the people who are able to juggle all those activities and still find time to have a social life and do the dishes once in a while. I don’t participate in half of that list, and I hardly ever do the dishes. You can ask my mother. (Please don’t.)

Working hard isn’t just about getting these grades in school and working this many hours at a respectable job. To achieve something beyond the norm, a person has to be creative, flexible and willing to take a chance on something new. To stand apart in a world of mass competition, that person has to be proactive and constantly seek new opportunities.

We choose to be content with achieving less than we are capable. We choose to waste our time and pick out a thousand reasons not to do something. We choose to be intimidated by the odds of failure and the dimness of success.

Find the discipline. Find the courage and make the time to do something extraordinary. It won’t be easy, of that you can be sure. But then again, nothing worth doing ever is.