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Talkin' with Trav: True formula for success is hard work

By Travis Hansen

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, April 24 2012 9:51 a.m. MDT

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There is one — and only one — true formula for success. Get your pen ready for this secret: It's HARD WORK!

It is universally known that success is the reward of hard work. A lazy man seldom succeeds. Another saying that rings true is "fortune favors the brave." In this world of ours, one cannot be successful without being bravely prepared to work hard.

Two years ago when I was flying home to Utah from Moscow, I was able to speak about many different topics with the general authority sitting next to me. When we discussed teenagers and all the challenges they face, I remember saying something like, "These poor kids have it so rough; I feel for the ones who are making poor choices." This wise leader responded, "It's not the kids who are failing; it's the parents."

Last week a story I heard confirmed this statement. A recent Brigham Young University graduate who had been looking for a job for more than a year walked into a resource center looking for help finding work. As the mentor asked this young man questions, he was saddened by the answers.

What work experience do you have? "I have never had a job in my life," the grad responded.

What chores did you do as a teenager? "None. My mom always made my bed and cleaned the house, and we just watched television and played video games. My dad always did the yard work or paid someone to do it."

Did you pay for your mission or part of it? Did you pay for college? "None of it. My parents paid for it all," he replied.

How do we expect our children to learn to work and have self-reliance if we do all the work for them? One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is self-confidence. And to obtain self-confidence one has to accomplish something.

If you have ever mowed a lawn, washed dishes, done laundry, painted a fence, worked a shift or made your own bed, you know the amazing feeling that comes with the act of working.

To all the youth who complain to their parents, friends and teachers when they are given an assignment, task or chore, I say: Get used to working hard. You will be doing it the rest of your life. Stop complaining, stop being negative and learn to be positive.

The sooner you accept and learn this principle, the more quickly you will know that it can be fun and life-changing.

Decide right now that for the next 30 days you will only think and talk positively. Don't allow one negative statement out of your mouth; when a negative thought enters your mind, throw it out.

Former L.A. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda knew a bit about success when he said, "The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination."

This is true in every walk of life. To be a successful business person, one has to work hard; to be a successful doctor one has to study intensely for years.

Take the example of some young athletes. They did not earn their names overnight. To achieve their fame, they had to work day and night for years, sometimes forgoing pleasures and happiness.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

All the so-called “secrets to success” only work if you are willing to.

Yes, you have to dream big, set goals, make good choices, believe in yourself and never give up. But all of these tools are useless without hard work.

Here are my top five examples of people who show that success follows hard work from a list of Famous Failures by best-selling author Michael Michalko:

J.K. Rowling. Rowling may be rolling in a lot of Harry Potter dough today, but before she published the series of novels she was nearly penniless, depressed, divorced and trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel. Rowling went from depending on welfare to survive to being one of the richest women in the world in a span of only five years through her hard work and determination.

Michael Jordan. Most people wouldn't believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn't let this setback stop him from playing the game.

He has observed, "I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Thomas Edison. In his early years, teachers told Edison he was "too stupid to learn anything." Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those failed attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.

Abraham Lincoln. While today he is remembered as one of the greatest leaders in our nation's history, Lincoln's life wasn't so easy. In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you're not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn't stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed businesses and was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.

Colonel Sanders, founder of KFC. At 65 years old, he was dead broke, his only asset a secret chicken recipe. He knew he wasn’t going to make it on pensions alone, so he decided to travel across the country to try to sell his secret recipe to restaurant owners. The first owner turned him down. The second turned him down. So did the third. And the fourth. He persevered and worked hard. He was rejected more than 1,009 times before one finally agreed.

That’s the sort of persistence and hard work I’m talking about.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”

Every day you wake up to obstacles, challenges or misfortunes. You may not be able to choose what situation you are dealt, but you certainly can choose how you react to it.

I believe if you want it bad enough, you’ll get it. But you may have to listen to 1,009 people say no before one says yes.

There have been many other amazing examples of people who have persevered, worked hard and eventually been successful.

Success attracts a special person who is determined and persistent and who will never take no for an answer.

David Bly said, "Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest what you haven't planted."

Remember, the future depends on what we do in the present.

Travis Hansen is a former BYU, NBA (Atlanta Hawks) and Euroleague basketball player. He co-founded the Little Heroes Foundation and is married with three children.

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