The Secret to Luck and Success Lies With You.: Work harder than you think you can.

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
3 min read
Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

I have been nominated for a teaching award and part of the process is I have to describe my philosophy of education.

I have been giving it a lot of thought and one of the things I’ve arrived at is I strive to inspire students to work harder than they think they can. I believe that is a route to self actualization, luck, and success.

Apropos of this process, I wrote the following and posted it as an announcement to my students.

Work Harder Than You Think You Can.

There is an important life lesson buried in these assignments. It is to challenge yourself to do your best work.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.


Take the discussions seriously and thoughtfully. Practice your writing and communication skills. Remember, there is no good writing, only re-writing.

Go the extra mile in the group work. Use this as a laboratory for navigating team and personal dynamics. The group work is about doing your research and practicing cooperation. Try out different strategies of how best to get on with colleagues.

Show all your work in math problems, and hide it on final drafts of written work.

Do every assignment. Finish strong.

Apply yourself. We all busy and vulnerable to falling into the trap of putting in just enough effort to get our ticket punched on the way to our perceived destination.

Every day presents us with the opportunity of making those slight changes that would make all the difference.

How we do anything is how we do everything. Whatever we do well, however humble, is noble.

It is easy to rationalize giving less than our best and inevitably asking ourselves: “when will we need this in real life?” The answer is not what you expect: never.

The actual subject matter is essential for success, but there is a more profound lesson. The more in-depth takeaway is learning how to keep going even when what you learning is complicated and confusing.

It’s about facing obstacles. The obstacle is the way.

The real lesson is in exercising diligence, cooperation, resilience, flexibility, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

You will use these skills every time life presents you with something difficult or unexpected. What matters most is learning that you have what it takes to work through challenges.

In life, when you do not submit your very best work, everyone loses. This course is your dojo, your practice space.

I believe in luck, and I find that the harder I work, the more of it I experience.

Apply yourself and give your best. Hard work pays off.

We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.

Robert Brault

I would like to polish this and make it really shine with any comments or suggestions. Thanks!

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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