As I was having coffee and collaborating with another editor for BAC Magazine, the debate about what sets apart a champion from a participant- hard work or talent came into question.
We all know it takes natural, God-given athletic ability to become a successful high performing athlete. We also know it takes hard work and dedication. But which of the two is the greater factor for success?
“Lavar said you have two choices, hard work or hard work,” said the editor as he discussed his recent conversation with Lavar Ball in his Chino Hills, California home. He shared with me the story of how Lavar instilled hard work in his three infamously talented sons.
“They each wanted a basketball hoop, so they saved their allowances and we used that to buy the three hoops. Then we went back and bought the shovels and concrete and all of the things needed to put the hoops in the ground.”
He continued to show the boys the value of work ethic by not only making them dig the holes for the hoops, but put the hoops in themselves. “It took eight hours for them to do one hoop. They were exhausted and crying,” Lavar said. “That’s when I told them they had two choices. They could work hard and put everything they had into playing basketball, or they could find a 9-5 job and work hard at that their entire lives- it was their choice.”
So the boys worked. They worked at basketball. Day in and day out. It was the work ethic that Lavar instilled in them, and he believes that has helped them get to where they are today. Of course their natural ability and talent catapulted their burgeoning careers, but without their intense and driven work ethic, it’s worth considering, we never would have heard of the Ball brothers.
You always hear of coaches that want ‘grinders”, and so many young athletes believe that their talents allow them certain liberties in regards to their grind. It’s the rare occasion when otherworldly talent intersects with that relentless, unwavering drive and the result is greatness. Sure, talent can make you good, but without the work ethic, a player will never be great.