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16 People Who Worked Incredibly Hard To Succeed

Stashed in: #inspiration, Basketball, #greatness, Time, Apple, #success, Mother of God!, Practice, @mcuban, Humility, Fitspo, Awesome, 10,000 Hours, Shark Tank!, Batman!, people, There is no finish line., American Idol, Becoming, Willpower!, Begin!, Ain't Nobody Got Time For That, Michael Jordan, Workaholics!, @ryanseacrest

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My favorite is the story of Michael Jordan:

NBA legend Michael Jordan spent his off seasons taking hundreds of jump shots a day.

Michael Jordan had prodigious physical gifts. But as his long time coach Phil Jackson writes, it was hard work that made him a legend. When Jordan first entered the league, his jump shot wasn't good enough. He spent his off season taking hundreds of jumpers a day until it was perfect.

In a piece at, Jackson writes that Jordan's defining characteristic wasn't his talent, but having the humility to know he had to work constantly to be the best.

15 other examples of people who worked really hard to succeed...


Mark Cuban writes in his blog post Shark Tank: Success and Motivation that it took an incredible amount of work to benefit from his luck.

When starting his first company, he routinely stayed up until two in the morning reading about new software, and went seven years without a vacation.


Tim Cook always been a workaholic: he begins sending emails at 4:30 in the morning.

A profile in Gawker reveals that he's the first in the office and last to leave.

He used to hold staff meetings on Sunday night in order to prepare for Monday.

And that is why I'm bullish on apple. With a CEO like this, holy cow, they will outwork the competition.


Now imagine the Goldman Sachs CEO both leading such an austere lifestyle AND working this hard.


In addition to hosting American Idol, Ryan Seacrest appears 7 days a week on E!, hosts a daily radio show from 5 to 10 A.M., appears on the Today show, runs a television production company, and recently received $300 million in private equity funding to acquire more businesses.

Mother of God.

I think he takes the cake for the hardest worker.

Okay.. that just means that there is more than one Seacrest-shaped alien... There's probably an entire platoon of em!

I can believe that. Maybe from the same species as Dick Clark?


Marissa Mayer is known for her incredible stamina and work schedule.

She used to put in 130 hour weeks at Google, and told Joseph Walker that she managed that schedule by sleeping under her desk and being "strategic" about her showers.

Even people critical of her management style acknowledge that she "will literally work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

Since Eric hasn't weighed in yet, I will.

It's important to note that measuring the value of work simply in time spent is deceptive. It takes deliberate practice to increase one's skill; if you practice the wrong way, it doesn't matter how much sleep you lose.

Similarly, unless you won the genetic lottery, and are a natural short sleeper, taking the Marissa Mayer approach simply means you're essentially always working while drunk.

So which do you think it is for Marissa -- genetic lottery or drunk?

Either one seems plausible to me.

I haven't met Marissa, so I'm not sure. I've only met one natural short sleeper in my life.

If you gave me 15 minutes, I could test her and find out. Simply put her on a bed in a darkened room and see how long it takes her to fall asleep.

One of my RAs at Stanford worked endless hours (that's why she had a 4.3 GPA), but when tested by the sleep researchers, fell asleep within 90 seconds.

I've had periods where I've fallen asleep in 90 seconds, but you're right, that's not sustainable for me.

Sometimes I think the natural short sleepers are the lucky ones.

My wife is bothered by how fast I fall asleep. I do enjoy a full night of sleep though.

Woody Allen said There are two types of people in this world, good and bad. The good sleep better, but the bad seem to enjoy the waking hours much more.

This is really inspirational. It often seems that success is handed to talented people -- then the stories shows how darn hard they worked to create that success. Thanks for posting!

Chris is right. Time alone will just plateau you, or in some cases, make you worse.

What few talk about is that the long term mindset alone has profound effects. Knowing you're in it for the long term changes how you practice.

That said, if you are continually pushing yourself, the hours are incredibly powerful:

"One factor, and only one factor, predicted how musically accomplished the students were, and that was how much they practiced."

Chris Rock is another excellent example:

For a full routine, Rock tries hundreds (if not thousands) of preliminary ideas, out of which only a handful will make the final cut... By the time Rock reaches a big show— say an HBO special or an appearance on David Letterman— his jokes, opening, transitions, and closing have all been tested and retested rigorously. Developing an hour-long act takes even top comedians from six months to a year. If comedians are serious about success, they get on stage every night they can, especially when developing new material. They typically do so at least five nights per week, sometimes up to seven, and sweat over every element and word. And the cycle repeats, day in, day out.

And, let me round this out by mentioning the thing nobody who aspires to write bestsellers spends much, if any, time talking about: Deliberate Practice can border on the pathological. It's much like gambling -- if you win, no one considers it an addiction. If you do something for 10K and don't get impressive results you're a junkie or insane. Deliberate Practice can ruin personal lives and make you a profoundly miserable expert. It is not a universal good, there is a tradeoff here and not one to be taken lightly:

My study reveals that, in one way or another, each of the creators became embedded in some kind of a bargain, deal, or Faustian arrangement, executed as a means of ensuring the preservation of his or her unusual gifts. In general, the creators were so caught up in the pursuit of their work mission that they sacrificed all, especially the possibility of a rounded personal existence. The nature of this arrangement differs: In some cases (Freud, Eliot, Gandhi), it involves the decision to undertake an ascetic existence; in some cases, it involves a self-imposed isolation from other individuals (Einstein, Graham); in Picasso’s case, as a consequence of a bargain that was rejected, it involves an outrageous exploitation of other individuals; and in the case of Stravinsky, it involves a constant combative relationship with others, even at the cost of fairness. What pervades these unusual arrangements is the conviction that unless this bargain has been compulsively adhered to, the talent may be compromised or even irretrievably lost. And, indeed, at times when the bargain is relaxed, there may well be negative consequences for the individual’s creative output.


Approximately 10,000 hours worth of reading about it here.

Knowing you're in it for the long term changes how you practice.

Committing to deliberate practice changes a person significantly.

Well said, Chris:

Yet all the science now suggests that these insane levels of overwork are counterproductive.

Effort alone doesn't produce greatness; deliberate practice does, and it can only be practiced for about 4 hours per day.

I promise not to worship workaholism.

Where is Tim Ferriss, also a reported workaholic, to tout the joys of the 4 hour work week?

Nobody works more than Tim. He just defines work as "not work."

How can anyone define X as "not X" ?

getting paid for what you would be doing anyway = work that is not work?

Joseph Campbell has long had the answer, "Follow your bliss."

That's good. Warrants its own image.

Follow your bliss

The best part about the article is the fascinating profiles to which the articles link.

Any one in particular stand out for you?

Tim Cook. Michael Jordan. Ryan Seacrest.

The biggest workaholics of the bunch!

Ha. They do what they enjoy. They definitely take breaks/vacation. They get stuff done. I like that.

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