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Five Foot Nine And In The NBA!?

By Arel Moodie

I realize there is something greatly misguided about how we praise kids.  We tell them they are smart , handsome, athletic etc.

When I was younger I felt that some people either had "it" or they didn't. Either you were good at playing basketball or you weren't. Either you just "got" the math problem or you weren't smart.  Even to this day as an adult I see people valuing things of this nature.

"I don't know how I'm so good in X, I guess I just am. Guess I'm lucky like that."

 As if luck should be praised like that.  The emphasis is put on G-d given talent and not on controllable work ethic.  Dr. John Medina who wrote Brain Rules said that by praising a child for effort over natural talent encourages them to work harder.  This makes sense to me.

I don't care if someone is pretty. They had nothing to do with that. That was a genetic lottery winning. Does the person take care of their body and health through physical fitness and proper eating? That should be admired.

I don't care if someone is smart. What's your work ethic look like?

Eventually every person who relies on their natural talent will find themselves unable to compete. Because natural talent will take you so far before someone with a sickening work ethic will best you at your game.

Notice the height difference!

I love the story of the underdog. People like Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics who is 5' 9" and the last pick of the NBA draft who is raising to all star caliber performance.

There is a reason Antoine Walker was an all-star and now is known as one of the biggest basketball horror stories of all time. He relied on talent and not work ethic.

"Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."

I love the kid from the projects who is not from a great start who gets out anyway even though he's not the smartest or most naturally gifted.

I love the kid who is not the most good looking by public media standards, but has more confidence and swagger than anyone can handle.

Everything in this world you want you have to work for. Nothing given is ever appreciated as what is earned.

Telling young people they are gifted makes them think their talent comes from outside of them to which they have no control. This is misguided.

In the end, you don't need to fit an industry standard, be gifted, be smart, look a certain way to succeed. Focus on working hard for excellence. Dedication to your craft.
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