In 2009, Dane Ebanez (e-bon-ez) walked onto the University of Oregon football team with little expectation of ever playing in a game. After all, he was only 5’9” and weighed a modest 180 pounds.
Despite being virtually anonymous, Ebanez was an active member of the team. He attended hundreds of film sessions and practices. He toiled day in and day out on the scout team. He spent hours studying and executing plays of Oregon’s opponents.
And, while Ebanez thought no one noticed his efforts, someone did. In 2013 when Oregon had the Fiesta Bowl in hand, a teammate who knew of his commitment, ensured Ebanez’s hard work was rewarded. He found an opportunity for the walk-on to slip into the game for one play.
The lesson is this: Work hard at whatever you do. And find opportunities to sacrifice, even if you think no one is noticing. Chance are, someone is. And your reward is coming.
Forgotten in history are the names and stories of incredibly talented people who never applied themselves. In fact, nowhere in the annals of time is the tale of someone who rode talent alone to fame and fortune.
Sure, there have been talented people. William Shakespeare. Isaac Newton. Ben Franklin. Steve Jobs. And the list goes on and on. While each is known for a wonderful talent, ability, idea or insight, seldom mentioned in their run-up to distinction is the time and toil they invested in their so-called craft.
But if you really examined the lives of this lot of achievers, you’d find that coupled with their amazing talents was a commitment to applying themselves. Daily long hours. Week after week. Year after year. Grinding. Thinking. Practicing. Exploring ideas and concepts. Working through notions.
Remember this: Hard work is far more important than talent, especially when the talented don’t work hard.
A foundational law of economics is that human wants are insatiable. That is, no matter what you get or achieve, on some level you’re always looking for more. There is no end to your wants.
However, a foundational law of life is that just because you want something doesn’t mean you get it. In fact, want alone has never gotten anyone anything of lasting value.
You see, in life, when it comes to the important things, you never get what you want. You really don’t. In life, the only things you can count on getting are those things that you truly commit to.
Great achievements. Wonderful victories. Amazing accomplishments. Each of these takes a level of sacrifice. All require a modicum of sustained effort. There’s risk of loss, certainly in terms of time and likely an opportunity cost.
When it comes to obtaining things of lasting value, you don’t get what you want. You only get what you commit to.