In life, rarely is anything worth having easily or immediately achieved. Sure, you may experience an immediate reward from time to time—winning the lottery is the obvious example here—but you did not do much, if anything, to earn that reward. Rather, the rewards achieved through hard work over extended periods of time are the most fulfilling. It is through diligence—defined as “steady, earnest, and energetic effort; persevering application”—that we find the most rewarding and fulfilling work.
A word used in pop culture that seems on its surface to mean the same as “diligence” is “grind.” However, the difference between grind and diligence is that grind infers more monotonous work—“the 9-to-5 grind”—while diligence infers work done with energy and enthusiasm. Grind is diligence without passion. Another popular word right now in our culture is “grit,” which is a much better synonym for diligence than grind could ever be. Grit is passion and perseverance to achieve goals over long periods of time, which is in the same vein as diligence.
In my career, the most rewarding and fulfilling accomplishments were achieved through diligence. When I was named Eastern Washington University’s Head Football Coach in 2017, I had been coaching football for 17 years overall and 16 at EWU. When we won our tenth Big Sky Conference Championship in 2018 (my first Big Sky Championship as a head coach) and reached the National Championship, I’d been coaching for 18 years overall, 17 at EWU, and one as the Head Coach. Not every day of my coaching career has been fun and enjoyable, but I’ve done my best to approach every day with energy, enthusiasm, and perseverance. In the end, diligent work pays off.
Diligence is also not only applied over the long-term. Yes, it can be applied over the course of your career, but it can also be applied over the course of a shorter period of time—in our profession, over the course of a season. It is imperative to approach every day with diligence, even if every day is not enjoyable.
We talk a lot with our team at Eastern Washington about overcoming adversity in football, over the course of a season, and, especially, in life. Adversity can and will strike in football and in life at any time. Instead of worrying about what the issue is or being stuck on the issue, we work on identifying the issue, finding solutions, and moving forward. Practicing diligence in your life allows you to overcome adversity in any form it may present itself.
Perhaps the best part of diligence is it doesn’t discriminate. Diligence welcomes all and turns away none. You can employ diligence in your life regardless of your background, age, or social standing. Our football team at Eastern Washington is made up of 18-23-year old young men from all backgrounds and upbringings. Diligence doesn’t guarantee us any victories on the field or any victories in life (it’s not a guaranteed formula), but it gives us a better chance than most.
Aaron Best enters his third season as the Head Football Coach at Eastern Washington University in 2019. He is a longtime Eagle and member of the Cheney/Spokane community: He played football at EWU from 1996-1999, graduated from EWU in 2001, and has been a part of football (and Cheney) at EWU for 21 years as a player, student assistant, graduate assistant coach, assistant coach, and head coach. Aaron highly values his partnership with PACE, as he will be a part of the upcoming West Plains PACE Awards for the second consecutive year.