There are many things you cannot control, e.g. your upbringing, your environment, your parental income. Though the things you can control, you must control with great intensity. Work as hard as you can. You have the power to decide when you are done for the day, when a seemingly unsuccessful project must come to an end, and when you want to focus on something else. Work ethic is personal. If you love your craft, work on it, and hone it. 

When I was working to publish my Ph.D. Magic Spot discovery, I concentrated with great intensity solely on that project. For several months, I would spend the vast majority of the day working towards my publishing goal—with only brief partial-day breaks. While unrelenting and exhausting, it was also exhilarating. When the work came to a close and I was published, there was no greater feeling.

Don’t let anything stop you from working hard. Work as best you can despite how ill you are. Work as best you can despite all the institutional obstacles in your way. Disease and adversity are great hindrances that will present massive hurdles to your work. These hurdles can be overcome, again, with hard work and perseverance. The only way to keep going is to keep going. Once the hurdles are overcome, and your work is complete or your goal is achieved, you’ll look back a recognize that the effort was worth it.

As a young Harvard professor, I was free to engage in whatever projects I saw fit, so long as I was the best in the world at it. This can be extended to everyday life for everyday people. It doesn’t necessarily matter what your work is or what your goal is. So long as you work as hard as you can as best you can on your way to achieve that goal, the satisfaction will come in the end.

Ultimately though, the combination of the loftiest goals and the hardest worker achieve the greatest success. Take a moment to think about your work ethic, whether it can be improved, and if yes, do so. Were everyone to maximize their work ethic, there may be a brighter future around the corner.

This blog is one in a series showcasing writing samples from my autobiography: My Lifelong Fight Against Disease. Available for purchase here.