As a mom of four beautiful kids, I’ve always tried to instill the notion that effort and determination are a far more accurate indicator of overall success than inborn talent or ability. Take Laura Ingalls Wilder, for example. She was a tiny little wisp of a woman. Only 4’11”!
Despite her diminutive stature, however, she helped with the hard physical work of making hay, taming wild horses, clearing rocky land, milking cows, sawing huge logs, teaching prairie schools (starting at 15!!) and doing just about every other heavy task that there is to do on a farm. In short (pun intended!) she didn’t let a little thing like height or stature stand in her way!
When she was leaving home for her first job as a teacher, though, she began to fear that she was too small, too young and too inexperienced to succeed. Her Pa encouraged her brilliantly:
“You’ve tackled every job that ever came your way,” Pa said. “You never shirked, and you always stuck to it till you did what you set out to do. Success gets to be a habit, like anything else a fellow keeps on doing.”
I love that. “Stuck to it till you did what you set out to do.” That, my friends, is what I think makes the real difference in whether a person succeeds or fails: effort and determination.
My four kids range in age from 18 down to 8. I have two girls and then two boys. Each and every one of these amazing human beings is entirely unique. I, personally, think that’s awesome. It makes us a diverse, interesting, eclectic little crew.
But it can also be a place of discouragement if you don’t have the right attitude. When you see your brother or sister excel at something easily and naturally, it can be hard to motivate yourself to attempt something you enjoy, but are just ‘okay’ at. But if all you ever do is the thing that you are easily great at, you’re going to miss a WHOLE lot of amazing, wonderful, enriching experiences.
Take me, for example. I am not the world’s best singer. I’m adequate, however, and because it is something I enormously enjoy, I’ve stuck with it and worked hard to improve and strengthen what I do have, from my first days as an elementary school choir member through to my ten plus years as a worship leader. I’ve traveled through the US, Europe, and even Russia on worship teams and in choirs, and have even had some pretty big solos. I was never the best in any group I was a member of, but I always gave it my all. In return, I’ve had the most amazing experiences of my life, met the most incredible people, and have seen sights I never could possibly have dreamed I would have.
That’s a pretty good return for my effort and determination, if you ask me.
So our family focuses on effort. We try to instill a bent toward stick-to-it-tiveness in our children, no matter what the outcome. And, you know what? It’s reaping some fantastic results . . . one determined try at a time.