Struggle is the Key to Success
In life, people are exposed to a number of problems and challenges, and it is only when such obstacles are tackled will a person be able to be successful. Success can never be earned by staying idle and this implies that it is important to put an effort to increase the chances of becoming successful in life. Hard work has always been encouraged starting from the time when a person is still young. Parents are used to telling their children to avoid laziness in order to do well in school. Studies have also shown that hardworking students tend to excel in both their academics as well as extracurricular activities. Therefore, struggling is one of the most important components that differentiate between a successful person and a failure.
Currently, people live in a highly competitive world where the level of success is dependent on the hard work and initiatives which an individual places. On a broader perspective, for a company to survive the competitive pressures that are present in the corporate world, the management team must work hard in terms of finding the techniques that will enable the firm to stay above its competitors. Hard work comes in a variety of forms. For instance, an organization can invest in research and development (R&D) activities that would enable it to discover techniques that are essential in producing products that are of higher quality. These products would then be patented and thus enable the firm to have a competitive advantage over its rivals. Therefore, the hard work that such an organization uses enables it to be successful by improving the popularity of its brand and attracting new customers. This is a clear indication that firms that fail to place emphasis on hard work end up lagging behind their competitors.
On an individual basis, success can be measured based on the amount of struggle and hard work which a person has employed. A good example is that of a sport person. A boxer can only win a fight based on the amount of effort and hard work he has placed on his training schedules. Studies have revealed that most of practice sessions of a boxer are usually strenuous, and they are akin to punishment or having to eve come tough struggles. Conversely, an athlete can only win medals based on the amount of times he spends on the training field. In a sports team, such as football, basketball, or rugby, players have to struggle together as a team in order to emerge successful in competitions. This implies that such a team has to struggle to remain fit and discover strategies that would enable it to be successful. In such a case, success cannot be achieved by reading books since physical fitness is the key path to success. In addition, competitive sports do not depend on luck since people usually compete against other professional players who have put enough zeal and zest to become successful.
In conclusion, for people and organizations to be successful, they should struggle and work hard to polish their strong areas that will enable them to overcome their competitors. There is a phrase that says, “No pain, no gain,” and this implies that people have to struggle in order to increase their chances of being successful. A talented individual must exploit his potential by putting them into practice in order to perfect his abilities. It is through such efforts that often lead to success. Lazy people who do not invest any iota of effort often find themselves poor and success never comes to them.
College Application Essays: Tell a Story to Answer Prompt 2
When Messing Up is a Good Thing
I almost like Prompt #2 as much as Prompt #1 of the new essay questions for The Common Application: The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn.
This essay prompt is music to my storytelling ears!
Why? Because first it literally asks you to tell a story (“recount an incident or time”) in your essay, which I think creates the most engaging and meaningful essays!
And secondly, it wants you to tell a story about a time you “failed.”
I know you might think the last thing you want to tell your college about is a time you screwed up, but it’s actually perfect.
I’ve talked many times in this blog how problems make the best stories.
Well, a failure is a type of problem, and a terrific one at that.
Problems (including failures) are naturally interesting to read about—who doesn’t love a juicy problem?
It’s much more fun to read about things that go wrong than when they go smoothly.
Think about the news, or your favorite movie or T.V. show!
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing,
but in rising up every time we fail.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
So right out the door, this prompt is setting you up to find a compelling story about “a time” you failed, which you can then use to explain how you recovered and what you learned in the process.
That is essay gold!
The beauty of writing about a time you failed at something is that you also naturally present yourself as very human, humble and vulnerable, and someone with the maturity to recognize when you messed up.
You almost can’t help but come across as a very likable person (as opposed to students who write about their accomplishments and achievement, which risk them coming across as “all that” and not so likable.)
The more I think about it, I couldn’t have come up with a better prompt to help you write a standout essay about yourself!
The key, I believe, is to spend a few minutes expanding your definition of failure to see how may directions you could take this essay.
Literally, it means “lack of success.”
Note that it does not mean a complete failure, as in failing a test and getting an F.
It’s more the idea that you tried something, and for whatever reason it didn’t work out.
You didn’t have to experience a total flop, or a catastrophe or a complete defeat. Also, the reason whatever you tried wasn’t a success could have been your fault, or not your fault. It could have been someone else’s fault, or the fault of the situation.
In fact, there doesn’t even have to be anyone or anything to blame—as long as you turned a problematic (challenging, difficult, unpleasant) experience into something positive.
So try to expand your idea of what failure means when you think of past experiences you could relate as stories (incidents or times) in your essay.
I would suggest not even looking for a time you “failed,” but a time you didn’t succeed, or win, or finish, or complete something, or get what you wanted, or do what was expected, or when something went sideways, or you changed something about yourself.
I can think back to some great essays written by past students that could have addressed this prompt.
One student wrote about his love of tying knots and how he got stuck in a tree; and how he used his problem-solving skills to get down.
That could have been a failure.
Another student wrote about not getting the star role in a school musical, and what she learned playing a less important role. Another failure.
If you wrote about a phobia or bad habit–that’s a failure (to deal with it or get over it).
The more I think about it, a failure can be construed as almost any type of problem that you either thought you couldn’t get over or solve or handle. If you want to try to write about this prompt, I would suggest you read my Jumpstart Guide or even better, try How to Write a College Application Essay in 3 Steps.
Just keep in mind all the ways a “failure” can be the same thing as a problem when you read it. Both these posts will also tell you how to use a story about that problem, in the form of an anecdote, to write your essay.
I also wrote several posts to help you learn how to write your stories, or anecdotes.
And here are Some Sample Essays to Inspire You.
I never thought failure could sound so sweet!
If you want help on The Common Application’s Prompt #1, read THIS POST.
If you want help on The Common Application’s Prompt #4, read THIS POST.
Tomorrow I’m writing about how Oprah Winfrey talked about the nature of failure in the commencement address she gave the 2013 graduating class at Harvard University this past weekend.
You will see another reason it makes a great topic!
This is my post about Oprah and failure.
If you want some AWESOME advice, and ideas on how to think about the nature of failure, watch this short video: