Wishing things could be better is a stupid waste of your time.

Why? Because wishing doesn’t do jack.

We live in a culture where prestige, money, and talent are looked down on as somebody getting an unfair advantage in the world. You look at professional athletes, who used to be respected for how well they played a game, and now all you hear is people saying, “Boy, it must be nice to have that kind of money! Getting paid to play a game – man…”

But is it that easy? Is it the same as picking up a basketball and just shooting around, and then you get millions?

For your consideration, I present Kobe Bryant.

At 34 years old, Kobe is considered to be one of the best players in the NBA. And personal issues aside, that reputation is warranted: he was the youngest player to reach 30,000 points, winner of the Slam Dunk Contest, scored the second-most points in a single game ever, has been an MVP, is an Olympic gold medalist, and has won five NBA championships.

The guy is famous, crazy-rich, and great at what he does.

Must be nice.

Today, I received my weekly email from copywriter John Forde. In it, he talks about how Kobe got “great”, according to Business Insider:

* It’s widely reported that Kobe used to show up for basketball practice at 5 am and then leave at 7 pm… in high school.

* Kobe used to make his teammates play him one-on-one to 100 points for practice. His worst score? A win, at 100-12.

* Sometimes, he practices on the court with no ball, cutting and dribbling and shooting his way past imaginary opponents.

* He tries to make at least 400 shots during every single practice session.

* He trains four hours every day during basketball season, and more hours daily in the off-season.

* After practice, he gets random teammates to stick around so he can “test” new moves on them.

That’s what it takes to be great. That’s what it takes to be rich and famous. Sweat.

Notice a thread in these stories? Voluntary extra work.

He’s not doing it because he’s getting paid overtime. He doesn’t put in the extra hours because someone is hounding him.

Kobe Bryant has been and is putting in extra time because he knows it’s what will make him great. It’s what will make him master the game.

This isn’t meant to be a Kobe Bryant apologist piece. I’m not a fan of his, nor am I a fan of the NBA (I live in Milwaukee, and our team has been terrible for decades).

But I do recognize greatness as a direct result of hard work. You gotta respect that.

So the next time you sit around thinking it “must be nice” when someone else is successful, think about this: 99% of them worked their butt off for it. What are you doing right now?

If the answer to that question is not “Working my butt off to reach my goals/wishes/dreams”, then shut your trap and get back to work.

No worthwhile thing in life comes without work. Go out and there and get it. Nobody’s going to give it to you. You have to put in the time.