What is the value of examinations?

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Einstein once remarked, “Success is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” This mantra is often repeated, and has been the motto of many desiring such success. Yet, in today’s world, there have been an increasing number of examples of people who have succeeded without much effort. So then, is hard work still required for success, or can it even guarantee success? Judging from evidence present in the world, hard work has never been able to guarantee success, but hard work could be needed to ensure success is possible.

First, let us look at the idea of success. Success can come in many forms, depending on the individual. Examples include success in one’s career, but success is not just limited to the earning of money and power. People can also have a successful family life, or successful friendships. An environmental awareness project could be deemed a success, yet the success may not even be tangible, since it is difficult, or perhaps even impossible, to measure the growth in environmental awareness.

Economically, hard work has been the foundation of success for many. C.K. Tang’s story about arriving in Singapore with nothing but a bit of cloth to sell has often been told. And his rags-to-riches tale is not unique. What is common in all these tales is the fact that the people involved all worked extremely hard. However, not everybody who works hard is guaranteed such success. Furthermore, in some cases, hard work may not he needed at all. During the dot.com craze in the mid to late 90′s, 60 millionaires were being created a day. Yet few of those dot.coms had a sound business plan or idea. Amazon.com, one of the biggest dot.coms around, never posted a positive quarter, yet Jeff Bezos is now one of the richest people in the world.

Hard work is also not the only thing required for success. Nowadays, image also plays an important role. In America, it has been statistically shown that balding men are less likely to get a promotion, while short men and fat women are less likely to be hired. Thus, while a person may work hard, he also needs to complement his hard work with a presentable image. Similarly, it has been shown that people with better emotional quotients (EQ) are more likely to succeed.

In politics particularly, image is now arguably the most important factor. In the recent United States Presidential Election, Al Gore’s role as Vice-President, and his hard work in helping steer America to record-breaking levels of economic growth counted for nothing, as George W. Bush managed to beat him, by projecting a friendlier image than Al Gore. Thus, hard work in this case was clearly not enough.

In the field of sports, hard work is also not necessarily enough. While hard work does not hurt, the best in the world often require some natural talent in their field. A football player with poor psychomotor skills will find it difficult to reach a high level of sporting achievement.

Perhaps the most evident example of hard work not being enough is in the reality show Survivor. In the show, the ones to be voted out were often those who worked the hardest, while those who won tended to be people who would backstab their team-mates, or even their allies.

While it is evident that hard work is not always enough to ensure success and for that matter there may very well be no guarantee to success, it can he argued that success cannot be achieved without hard work.

In the area of business, the dot.com companies eventually suffered from a stock market crash, with many going bankrupt. Only those companies that actually strove to provide an actual service managed to survive. While image and EQ may also play an important role in the business world, without hard work, it is difficult to climb the corporate ladder very well.

Politically, hard work is also required to stay in power. Joseph Estrada’s popular image from his years of being a movie star helped him get elected to office, but his tenure demonstrated his corruption and ‘gross incompetence’, as described by some. Eventually People Power took over and he was removed from office. The politicians best remembered are also usually those who have contributed the most to their country, and such contributions cannot be made without hard work. In a sense, if being fondly remembered for one’s contributions, or at least for trying, by people is a measure of political success, then perhaps it is necessary after all to work hard, if one wants to be successful politically. Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s contributions to Singapore is an example.

In the field of sports, hard work combined with natural ability can often be a recipe for success. David Beckham’s drive to be the best compelled him to train for hours, to the extent of sometimes collapsing from exhaustion, but it has allowed him to become one of the world’s best footballers. Many other sportsmen also succeeded because of hard work.

Socially, people who work hard at maintaining relationships also tend to enjoy success, since effort is needed to keep friends and loved ones in close contact all the time. Similarly, maintaining a relationship with one’s spouse or significant other requires a lot of time and effort, so as to ensure that the relationship is a success. While the relationship may not work out every time, it is the other person’s acknowledgement of one’s effort that makes the time and effort worthwhile and a success.

In the field of science, hard work is an essential component. Thomas Edison experimented over a thousand times, before he finally succeeded in inventing the light bulb. Researchers also have to work hard at finding the cures for diseases. While sometimes that little luck may be needed, without hard work, the desired result is often difficult to obtain.

For the conservation of the environment, it also requires hard work and effort from everybody. Without such efforts, any attempts to save the environment will often be futile. Singaporeans in general are not as environmentally conscious as other European nations, and this has manifested itself in the stuttering campaign to make Singapore a ‘Green City’.

Finally, in Singapore, perhaps there exists an example of how hard work really can guarantee success. Students who work hard to achieve excellent grades are often rewarded with government scholarships, upon which they are ‘fast-tracked’ and promoted with great frequency. Thus, one’s hard work in school can actually lead to guaranteed economic success.

While neither hard work alone nor anything else may be able to guarantee success, hard work is often essential for success. It is as important to work smart as it is to work hard, and when hard work is complemented with that ‘one percent’ of inspiration, some natural ability and that bit of luck, it is often a guaranteed recipe for success. More importantly, success is what one makes of it. To some, being able to go home to a happy and appreciative family is considered a successful life. If a person is content with what one’s efforts bring him, then perhaps hard work can be considered as a guarantee to success.

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