Hard Work Is Your Only Option

A thought experiment

Niklas Göke
3 min readSep 27, 2022


Photo by Birger Strahl on Unsplash
This is an excerpt from my new book, 2-Minute Pep Talks*. If you enjoy it, you can buy a copy for as little as $3.99 here*.

If you took an IQ test right now, there would be two possible outcomes. One, you get a result that’s below average. Two, you get a result that’s above average. Would you change your work ethic in either scenario? Think about it.

I have used hard work to compensate for a lack of knowledge many times. When I wanted to learn how to perform cool soccer tricks, I watched every video I could find and practiced for many hours every day. When I started my blog, I had no idea how to market it. I ran many experiments based on tactics I learned from others, and then I stuck with what worked for me.

I could list countless examples of hard work beating intelligence. I’m sure you’ll find plenty in your own life. Common sense says that the more of these examples we look at, the less we’ll worry about our intelligence, and the more motivated we’ll be to work hard ourselves. To some extent, that’s true. On the other hand, you could say that even the most inspiring story doesn’t matter. Why? Because hard work is your only option anyway.

Let me repeat: Hard work is your only option.

Would you work less hard if you found out you were a genius? Would you try any harder if you discovered you weren’t? I hope you wouldn’t have to. I hope you know that, when you have a goal, your best shot is to do your very best until you get it, regardless of the circumstances.

There’s already a great variety of things we don’t control: Talent, luck, external events, and, yes, our baseline of intelligence. Dialing the work ethic setting from “lazy” to “persistent” is just about the only thing we can control. Why on earth would we make any other choice?

What’s more, hard work automatically gets you the best out of all the other levers, even if they’re out of reach. The more you use your talent, the better the track record you will build. The more output you create, the more chances at lucky breaks you get. And over time, even the worst circumstances will give way if you keep working.

I don’t know what your dream is, but when you really commit yourself to it, only only one of two things can happen. Either one day, after many years of work and endless wins and losses, you will achieve your dream, or you will die trying along the way — with zero regrets that you gave it your all.

The only other option? To give up. To quit. To look at your dream and say, “You’re not worth it. You’re too hard. I can’t chase you. I’m not strong enough.” Well, you are strong enough, and if you ask me, giving up is not an alternative. Not on your dream. We only get one life.

No matter how intelligent you are, there’ll always be infinitely more to know than you already do, but whether you decide to work on a Sunday, stay after practice ends, or tend to your garden after dark, that’s up to you.

Choose hard work. Choose hard work either way.

This is pep talk #19 from my new book, 2-Minute Pep Talks: 67 Jolts of Inspiration for More Hope, Comfort, and Love in Any Situation*.Pep talks are vitamins for your spirit: You don’t have to take them every day, but if you don’t take them at all, eventually, your soul will feel their absence. With 67 daily messages full of hope, love, and comfort, 2-Minute Pep Talks will make sure you maintain your inner balance.Whether you’re looking for a pick-me-up, new perspectives, or more fuel to accomplish your dreams — if you’re ready to regain that light, optimistic feeling we all used to have as kids, this book is for you.You can get the book on Amazon*.



Niklas Göke

I write for dreamers, doers, and unbroken optimists. Read my daily blog here: https://nik.art/