Excellence through hard work and intelligent practice

In IIT hostels, the worst insult was to call someone a ‘maggu’, i.e., a studious, hard-working plodder.

But how was that an insult when we all studied like maniacs to clear the IITJEE exam?

The subtext was that if you studied really hard, you lacked ‘natural brilliance’ — the only thing that IIT students cared about. Even if your grades were terrible, as long as you were not a ‘maggu’, it was all forgiven.

And this dysfunctional thinking is not limited to engineering colleges. We all love the naturally gifted guy who doesn’t have to try too hard.

Why is that? When you get a birthday gift, you don’t go around shouting, ‘I am proud of my gift.’ Why are we then so proud of our natural gifts?

We probably like naturally gifted people because we don’t have to try hard to achieve their levels of success — after all, it wasn’t hard work; it was a gift!

Truckloads of studies show that when you try learning a skill, talent makes a difference in the beginning, but hard work and intelligent practice are what put you among the best.

The great news is that you and I can be exceptionally good at almost anything.

The bad news is that as long as we have access to the resources and guidance, there is no excuse for being mediocre. It is totally on us.


– Rajan

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