Does Perspiration Always Pay Off?

by Liz Talley

We all know that old addage about success, right? I mean, we as authors cling to the notion that it’s totally true. After all, everyone says it.

“SUCCESS is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration” – Thomas Edison

And we as human beings cling to that notion – that if we work hard enough, if we put the time in, that one day we will hold aloft that great trophy of success.


So tonight my son asked me that question – Does hard work always pay off? And I wanted to say, “Of course! When you work hard, you reap rewards.”

But I couldn’t.

Because the poor child has worked hard for three years on his football team. He has gone to practice in searing temperatures, endured strained muscles and painful growth plate breaks, and he has been an encourager and a team player, but the fact of the matter is he is too small and too slow to be effective. He’s just good enough to make the team – he can tackle well and has a really good knowledge of the game, but it’s just not enough. So he sits on the sidelines, waiting to go in…but that opportunity rarely comes. Sometimes he gets in on a series while the starters get a small break, and then it’s back to the sidelines to watch and wait.

For the past two games, the kid has not even gotten in on ONE single play. Of course, you all can step in my shoes and feel the heartache I feel when I watch my son walk away devestated that the coaches don’t think he can make a difference in any way. It’s horrible. Hurts. Makes me angry. I sort of want to punch the coaches. But I can’t. I’m the adult, so I’m left to say things like “I’m sorry.” Really, what more can I say without being petty and immature?

So tonight, he laid his little soul bare and said those dreaded words – “I’ve been doing nothing but wasting my time.”

Thing is…I couldn’t disagree. Well, I could, but I could see his point. For the past three years, he’s been a scrub, a kid they used in practice for the practice squad to run plays against. His role wasn’t legit, and though he learned about life being unfair, basically, it WAS a waste of his time. He missed out on lots of activities in order to attend practice. He stayed up late finishing homework after late games. He bore bruises and heartaches for, well, not much benefit other than getting to wear his jersey on gameday. And as he says, “Big deal.”

So I often wonder about writers, or more specifically, those writers who are still slogging along wondering “when will my hard work pay off?”

Does it always?

I’m not sure.

We say it’s about the journey. We say it’s about the friends we make along the way. We say “one day that will be me.”

God, please let it be true! Please let the old addage be something I can squeeze tight in my hand, cling to when the days feel like broken glass, cutting and deep. Please let hard work give me andΒ my boy results that make old wounds fade to nothing worth remembering. Please let the sweat and tears sharpen my determination. This is my prayer for all who labor and dream…that the perspiration yeilds results and that the inspiration is ever at reach. So that we can all find success in some way in what we do. Yep, that’s my prayer.

Because I want to be a glass half-full sort of person – and not toss the glass away because I don’t care anymore.

So, now that I’ve tossed out that sunshine (LOL!) what advice do you give to those around you who want to give up? Any good advice I can pass along to my son who wants to quit?