With every intention of writing a fantastic book about his experience, Todd has returned to high school in his native Pittsburg. He’s been in school for three months…
While I started out with the intention of getting a 4.0, I’d only been doing just enough work to get by over the last month. I’d been pretty happy cruising by during this time period — less stress, more free time, and with the combination of sports ending and filming less, actually getting some sleep.
But it got me to think about an internal debate we all have that’s not even about school: how hard should we push ourselves? What is the balance and relationship between happiness and success?
School is an interesting prism through which to view this issue, in the respect that while there’s such a direct correlation between hard work and success in school, these concepts start to seem very vague in our adult lives. And more to the point, school offers us cold, hard numbers that let us know how we do. So in that sense, we need to all decide what is acceptable to us. Am I happy as a 3.0 student who does just enough to get by and has fun? What’s wrong with just cruising through school and being happy? Would I be happier as a 4.0 student who works hard but is perpetually stressed and goal focused? Or will I only be happy if I’m first in my class? Is there a balance that’s acceptable? Should I just focus on learning and let the grades be what they are? What is that balance?
It’s easy to say, “Hey, just work hard and let the grades/money/whatever take care of itself.” But that doesn’t really get us anywhere because everyone has a different definition of hard work. How hard is hard enough? This is largely answered by trying to think about if we’re working towards a goal or putting in a certain amount of work and then letting the results be what they may. If the former is the case, it opens up another difficult internal debate. That debate has a great deal to do with what we consider “good” in the area we’re focusing on.
Take golf, for instance. Ask anyone you know who plays the game what a “good” golfer is, and they’ll almost always say someone just a little better than them. If they shoot over 100 they’ll say a good player is someone who can break 100. If they shoot in the 90′s someone who is good shoots in the 80s. This even goes all the way to players who are scratch. They’ll say that a “good” player is a pro. Mentally, we make sure we never win.
Assuming that this line of thinking is true and holds for other endeavors — and I’ve seen a similar dynamic when asking people about what constitutes “rich” — the real point is that unless we achieve true excellence we see “good” as being both close enough to be attainable but perpetually just out of reach, regardless of where we actually find ourselves.