Effort is internal, and is completely within your control. Winning is a by-product of effort, but it is subject to external factors and is almost never completely within your control — John Wooden, UCLA basketball coach
Recent research in motor skills and talent development has found that “initial ability has nothing to do with final ability”. This, I believe, is a really important message for young people aspiring to be the best they can be — whether in sports, music, art, the classroom or any other pursuit. The message, while it is about input, is much more about effort — focused and deliberate practice that is the prerequisite of success in any field of endeavour.
The Efficacy Institute (EI) is an organisation dedicated to the mission of getting all children to rise to higher levels of proficiency. In EI workshops, they highlight two different models of personal development. The first and traditional model — often called the American model — can be summed up as “you either have it (ability) or you don’t”. Under this model if you don’t have innate or God-given athletic ability, there isn’t much hope for you in the world of games and sports. Great athletes obviously “have it” and that’s why they are great.
The Efficacy Institute contrasts its Efficacy model with the American model. According to the Efficacy model, “self-confidence plus effective effort leads to development”. Considerable thought and deliberation has been invested in defining EI’s Efficacy model. Please note that according to the definition, it’s not effort simpliciter, but effective effort supported by self-confidence that’s the pre-requisite of success.
Allow me to cite some personal history. I was a very successful basketball player in high school and college and often described as a “natural shooter”. To this day, I have trouble with that description because even while in elementary school, I would shoot several hundred shots in the driveway of our home before walking three miles to school. I believe it was the many hours of shooting basketballs, day after day over several years, that resulted in my so-called natural shooting ability.
Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment; full effort is full victory — Mahatma Gandhi
If you can’t excel with talent, triumph with effort — Dave Weinbaum
For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward — Jim Rohn
Be willing to give that extra effort that separates the winner from the one in second place — H. Jackson Brown Jr.
The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win — Roger Bannister
Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential — Black Elk
It’s constant and determined effort that breaks down all resistance, sweeps away all obstacles — Claude M. Bristol
Psychologist William James presciently observed that our lives are shaped by the amount of effort we put into it. Everything else — physical talent, personality, the wealth of the family into which we are born — is given to us. But eventually it’s up to us as to how hard we are going to try to attain our goals.
Over the years I have conducted workshops, written books and counseled coaches and parents on how best to nurture and support the hopes and dreams of children. And I have always preached that accomplishment comes from effort.
The word effort, as I see it, needs definition. It is:
• Exertion of physical and mental strength or power, while performing an act or striving to attain an objective;
• Struggle directed towards accomplishment of an objective;
• The use of physical or mental energy to achieve an objective;
• Strenuous exertion of strength or will;
Inevitably, investment of effort to attain an objective requires expenditure of energy which in turn requires action, strength and vigour.
As I reflect back on my early work as a pastor and later as psychologist in the private and corporate world which continues to this day, where I have seen excellence, mediocrity and failure, energy has always been a key factor of productivity. Einstein thought it was the essence of everything — E=mc2.
Children’s efforts need guidance. Therefore as a parent or coach you have a critical role to play. By communicating to your children that accomplishment is the outcome of effort, and effort in turn requires energy, you’ll be teaching them an invaluable, lifelong lesson. This lesson learned will not only help their sports endeavours, but will guide your children in all walks of life.
(Dr. George Selleck is a Los Angeles-based advisor to EduSports, Bangalore)