“The plans of the diligent end in profit, but those of the hasty end in loss.” (Proverbs 21:5)
Those that have been around me during March Madness the last few years know I graduated from the University of Dayton (Go Flyers!). Recently, I read an article about a young man named Jeremiah Bonsu. Jeremiah is a 5’11” Jr. guard for the Dayton Flyers, but two years ago Jeremiah was the team manager. It is very improbable that anyone could go from team manager to team member, but what makes it even more improbable is that Jeremiah only scored 1 point in his entire high school varsity career.
While I am sure that he left plenty of time for his school work, he never gave up on a dream to play basketball in college. He worked out every day and played endlessly at the University of Dayton RecPlex. As Jeremiah puts it, “I’m talking every single day. Classes were done? Off to the Rec. Friday night? Rec. Saturday morning? Rec.” Jeremiah reported that the other students thought he was “a weirdo” because he wasn’t doing the other things that college students do. He spent every free second at the gym. “I guess they were right. I didn’t [want to party]. I wanted to ball. And if that made me weird, then I liked being weird,” said Jeremiah in a recent blog post.
Then the improbable happened. Jeremiah made the team. Perhaps the only one not surprised by this was Jeremiah.
Writer Malcolm Gladwell is credited with popularizing the “10,000 hour rule.” This “rule” postulates that nearly anyone can become an expert at something if they dedicate themselves to deliberate practice for 10,000 hours. This “rule” is based upon research by Anders Ericsson. Ericsson’s research demonstrates that expert performance, especially in certain disciplines, is more dependent upon what he calls “deliberate practice” than innate talent. This principle was recently featured in the Freakonomics podcast, “How to Become Great at Just About Anything.” While additional research has pointed out certain limitations to this principle, there is definitely something to it.
As Catholics, stories like Jeremiah’s shouldn’t surprise us. After all, isn’t this “Diligence:” One of the LCSS Core Gospel values and one of the Church’s Seven Heavenly Virtues? An online search reveals that Diligence is “careful and persistent work or effort.” Through the practice of diligence, we need to continue to encourage our students and each other to work with careful and planned persistence to ensure our God-given talents will be fully discovered and maximized. As parents, as coaches, and as teachers, we need to remind our children and students that Greatness exists within them, even if they don’t immediately see it. Through patient and continuous effort, success in life is often contingent upon constant and diligent hard work.
Former first lady, Abigail Adams, is quoted as saying “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”
Diligence means doing what you need to do even if you do not feel like it sometimes. It means not procrastinating and working hard. And, sometimes, like Jeremiah, Diligence may cause others to call you “weird,” but the pursuit of Greatness is a calling we all must hear. I am hopeful that as parents and educators we can help our young people to hear that call.
We are focusing this year on our nine core Gospel Values – Community, Servant Leadership, Respect, Gratitude, Humility and Understanding, Wellness, Patience and Perseverance, Diligence, and Integrity. This is the 8th installment of a series of articles which explores these Gospel Values. This installment discusses “Diligence.” (Please click on the links, above, to view the previous installments.)