Life can sometimes feel hopeless, like being in a dark hole a mile down. I remember one such time for me, when I wrote a letter to my dad explaining that I felt like a little kid in a blizzard in the middle of a busy freeway, paralyzed by fear with no clue how to proceed.
When I reached out to my dad, feeling like I needed a miracle, he reminded me of principles from the one lesson he had taught me, by both word and deed, more than any other. He reminded me, tenderly at times and bluntly at others, that the only way out of my situation was to work my way out one inch at a time.
Hard work — extremely hard work — was the miracle I needed.
If you were to ask my dad the key to his success in life he would probably say something like: "Well, I certainly don't know if I would call myself a success, but I'd say whatever I have achieved is probably mostly due to my looks and ability to sing like the Phantom of the Opera." If you could get him to answer sincerely, however, I guarantee he would attribute everything he has accomplished to his willingness to work hard no matter the situation.
Growing up in Salt Lake City, my dad's idea of a handout was the Deseret Industries truck pulling up to his house to drop off old clothes for him and his family to wear. Everything he has accomplished — from graduating with a computer science degree from the University of Utah, to running his own company, to being married in the temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and having a strong family with eight children, to influencing thousands of lives through church service, to coaching my little league sports teams — he has accomplished, first and foremost, because he was willing to put his head down and work, work, work.
When I am tempted, as I regularly am, to look for the shortcuts in life or the easy way out, I am often reminded of the example and words of my dad regarding hard work. It's a lesson that I understand more and more as I get older, one that has served me well through trying times, and one that I now am trying to teach to my own children.
If there's one lesson that stands out above all the rest my dad has taught me, it's that hard work may not be glamorous but it is an essential part of life and can be a miracle when you need one the most.
Nate Gagon is a published sports, music and creative writer. He is also a wholehearted father, grateful husband and ardent student of life. He shoots roughly 94 percent from the free throw line. Email: email@example.com Twitter: nategagon