Ever since I heard it, I have spent many moments pondering the depth and essence of a local coach’s quote from a couple of weeks ago.

The words were spoken by Houston cross country program leader Justin Brown: “The time spent working hard when nobody’s watching is what leads to success when everyone’s watching.”

That’s so profound on so many levels, and I believe the message being conveyed doesn’t have to be exclusively about sports, but life in general.

But I also believe the concept isn’t understood (or cared about) by far too many people these days.

Really, in this day and age, are there very many folks trying to better themselves during their “own time” with regard to a particular aspect of life, or simply being a better overall human being? Or are lots of people just getting by with the least amount of effort, while expecting everyone around them to carry loads and bear burdens?

There are several underlying factors here, like discipline, self-control and preparation.

Most successful athletes lead a disciplined existence, maintaining control over their desires to stray from a path that leads to a specific goal, and constantly preparing to enter their next competition with the utmost chance to succeed. Nothing is left to chance and nobody else is expected to do the job. And doing it all in an individual, solitary environment is OK, if that’s what’s called for.

There’s a phrase that describes what is necessary to follow such a regimen: Will-power.

A person must not only want to succeed, but to do what must be done to make that happen. While the temptation to just “skate by” will always be present, a person must have the inner strength to channel their focus and energy in a productive, beneficial and rewarding manner.

The concept is even Biblical. There are several verses that refer to doing things “heartily,” and several more about opposing subjects like laziness and apathy.

Wow, working hard when nobody’s watching to achieve success when everyone is. I can’t get over how weighty that is, and what a shame it is that it’s largely obscure in today’s path-of-least-resistance society.

But what if that wasn’t such a foreign ideal? What if we truly used our will to help us employ the discipline and self-control needed to continuously prepare to be better people?

Honestly, what would it be like if everyone actually conducted themselves that way?

I sure would like to know.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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