Work Harder Than You Think You Can

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
2 min read

This is an announcement I post to my students each semester. As I was posting this for the spring, I thought it contains some advice we all can be reminded of:

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

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.

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: you may never need it. But the discipline of learning helps build the techniques for acquiring other knowledge. Then again, you may end up using these finance topics much more than you can now envision. That has been my experience.

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 are learning is complicated and confusing.

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

Most people never finish. It doesn’t matter what you learned or how useful it is. When you finish something that you started, it means you’re serious about life.

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.

Adversity doesn’t build character; it reveals character.

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

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

Apply yourself and give your best. An investment in knowledge pays the best dividend.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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