As an introduction to my upcoming posts (that I hope you will find engaging), I want to share a few heartfelt thoughts.

Those of you who keep up with our Facebook, Twitter, and blog writings may recall that I recently posted lessons extracted from a speech by Admiral William McRaven. He is the former Commander, Joint Special Operations Command, and the architect of the raid by Navy Seal Team Six that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. Of the points that he stressed in his commencement address for the graduating class of 2014 at the University of Texas, Austin, a few were especially meaningful to me.

McRaven’s recognition of the extraordinary importance of hard work was reflected in his statement, “measure people by the size of their heart (his effort, his work ethic, his determination), not the size of their flippers (status in society, income, appearance).”

This quote illustrates how absolutely critical it is for us all to push to succeed and excel at everything we do. Talent is over rated as they say, and genius is no guarantee of results.
A brilliant example of this truism and triumph of work over innate ability is seen in the thoughts of Jordan Ellenberg. Dr. (PhD) Ellenberg is a professor of Mathematics and author at the University of Wisconsin. At the age of 12, he scored a perfect 800 on the math SAT. He describes how it is easy to be caught up in the glare of ability and genius, ignoring where real achievement comes from. “The cult of genius tends to undervalue hard work and the productive persistence that psychologists nowadays like to call ‘grit’”.

The second personally relevant lesson from the Admiral that he wanted to [...]