Hard work is no guarantee of success but a lack of hard work is an almost certain guarantee of disappointment and frustration.
I'm not saying that there isn't tremendous value in learning to work smarter, in refining your techniques or your delivery or your methodology. There is always a benefit from improvement but if you ever expect to use the edge you are developing to gain a higher level of success you need to do the hard work first, and keep doing it.
To paraphrase the words of the legendary salesman Frank Bettger, "Life is the easiest job in the world if you work it hard and the hardest job in the world if you try to take it easy."
The hilarious book, "Murphy Was an Optimist", says "No matter what you want to do, you'll have to do something else first." That something else is the work!
Opportunity is often said to come disguised as hard work. Luck is commonly defined as preparation meeting opportunity and preparation always consists of hard work.
Are you starting to seem a theme here? If not consider it this way.
Have you ever heard that you have to be willing to pay the price necessary to reach your goal? You're not paying that price in dollars. It's is an investment mind you, but it comes in the form of hard work.
Maybe you know the phrase "there is never a traffic jam on the extra mile." Do you know why that is? It's because most are too occupied with looking for a short cut that we never do the work necessary to develop the stamina, physically or mentally, to get to the extra mile in the first place.
Why are quick fix weight loss programs so popular? Why does every new miracle exercise program that comes on the market tell you can have a world class body in three 15 minute workouts a week? Because most people are looking for the shortcut.
I can't comment on your experience, but I can tell you that in mine, the short cuts don't work, until you're ready. There is no magic formula. There is no magic closing line or technique. There is no magic weight loss food. There is no miracle management technique or parenting style that will replace hard work and experience.
Here's the reality. The miracle edge is your experience. The miracle edge is learning from your experience and applying those lessons in a never ending program of self evaluation and improvement until you reach the point where it appears you know the secrets and have magic techniques that makes success look easy. The shortcuts that everybody seems to be looking for actually come in small incremental gains in skill, knowledge and awareness that accumulate to become a great advantage. It is the difference between having 20 years experience vs. one years’ experience 20 times.
Of course, sometimes you don't have 20 years.
Intensity, and focus on improvement, with practice, can dramatically shorten the curve. That is not a short cut. It simply means that you have to be a person of action, and be prepared for more "action" than you've experienced before, instead of reaction. Of course, by "action" I mean work. You decide.
There is truth in Spartan Warrior creed, “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.”
Now, I do believe there is one more element that will enable you to accelerate the success that comes with the work. Start with a specific goal in mind. Have a reason why you are doing all the work and measure yourself against that goal every day. Are you getting closer? What did you learn today? How did you improve? Was the improvement enough? There is no casual experience. Everything must be measured, and everything must have a reason.
Why did I tell you all of this? Because it is vital for you to understand that the application of the knowledge gained from very hard work produces great things. The work required by your circumstances is unique and you must figure out what that is. You must also take charge of the variables if urgency matters to you, but you must do the work. Nothing great is accomplished without it.
At the same time, if you didn't do the work necessary to have the knowledge, or strength or energy needed to create the foundation necessary for such a self-improvement program, you will always be frustrated.
I promise you that if you were to sit down with the people you know who make success look so easy, you'll be amazed at how much work they did before they became so good.
Of course, there is still reason to respect age and time and length of service. There is one awesome asset you want to have but that you cannot accelerate. It only comes from applying yourself effectively and learning over an extended period of time. What is it?
Ask John Wooden about the value of hard work. His UCLA Bruins won 10 National Championships in 11 years. Yes he had extremely skilled players but he made sure that they were capable of running a full court press for the entire game. They did the work, to the extent that even on nights when their skill was not shining at its best, they still won simply because they were in better shape, they could wear down their opponents and eventually win because they had the stamina to play in the extra mile. It's not the only reason he was so successful but all that work gave his team a distinct advantage and they made the most of it, over and over again.