I was very complacent about most academic things when I was younger. This is partly due to the fact that I have a fairly good analytical bent of mind, and that my parents nourished it the right way with books and CDs.
Due to this, I was usually well aware of the content of most subjects even before they were taught. I seldom put effort, and I did fairly well. I felt I was really cool.
I kept at this till I was in the 11th and started preparing for the IIT JEE. There were a couple of folks I knew, who took national level competitive examinations. There was one particular friend of mine, who used to score 100 marks lesser than me in a 500 mark examination. I felt even cooler.
Until one fine day, he scored higher, and higher, and higher. I could not believe it – he ended up qualifying for a selective All India classroom program; I didn’t. My coolness evaporated and I was brought back to the ground in emphatic style.
I was perplexed at the time as to how this was happening, but I knew in my mind why it was. He worked hard – I didn’t; that made all the difference. I humbly got my act together and started studying. He deservedly got a higher rank than me in the JEE, but if it was not for my realization – I wouldn’t have even qualified.
What’s my biggest life lesson? There’s no substitute for hard work. Nothing can beat it – nothing. You may be smart, talented, blessed – if you’ve got to make it, you’ve got to put in the hours. Anyone who claims otherwise is not your well-wisher.
I have a quote in my room that constantly reminds of this learning, which is now deeply ingrained in my mind:
“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”