There Is NO Hacking Life

Aaron ElseBlog, Differentiate Better, Engage Better, Innovate Better, Lesson Plan Better, Reflect Better


  • When working towards success, “hacking life” is not the solution.
  • Many self-help leaders and other successful individuals did not start that way. They had to overcome obstacles and put in the time to get where they are.
  • Perfection can be achieved over time with hard work and persistence. Teachers are demonstrating this with their creativity and determination.

There Is NO Hacking Life

Recently my son, Louis, taking after his father, was looking for ways to “hack life.”  You see, my son is a professional procrastinator.  If there is a way to avoid doing something, Louis will find the way.  So he searches Google looking for ways to “cheat the system.”  In some cases, this has worked.  He has figured out how he can sound smarter using Google Docs to find and replace words with “smarter words.”  Instead of reading a book for ELA, he searches and watches YouTube clips to avoid reading.

I must say, he has done pretty well in “hacking the system.”  The other day he was looking at my books and saw “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss.  Being a Ferriss groupie, seeing my son pick up this book sparked some serious joy.  Of course, my son in classic fashion says, “If you’ve read this book, why are you working so many hours?”  Yes, the ignorance of youth.  He said it is now his mission to work only 4 hours a week in the future.  

Perfect is there. Perfect is achievable but there is no easy path. There is no hack. There is only time, persistence, and work. Click To Tweet

Showing Up and Putting in the Work

If you walk into a Barnes and Noble today….wait sorry…if you go to Amazon today and look in the “Self-improvement” section, there are countless books to improve your life.  Believe me, I’ve read a lot of them.  For example, you see names like Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, Tim Bilyeu, Lewis Howes, Brene Brown amongst hundreds of others.  So much of this content is incredible and very helpful.  However, what nearly all of them fail to mention is the true secret ingredient to being successful in your chosen field: showing up and putting in the work. 

Before Tony Robbins was this life coach guru who could sell out arenas, he built a business working 80 hours a week.  He followed Zig Ziglar around like a puppy and begged for interviews with the likes of John Wooden to learn everything he could from them.  

Before Tim Bilyeu was a huge podcast host and had his own show, he and his wife spent their last dollar building Quest Bar to the name it is today.  They worked 24 hours a day sleeping on the floor of their factory to make it work.  

Lewis Howes is a regular on shows like Ellen, but just over a decade ago, he was broke sleeping on his sister’s couch until he figured out what he was truly passionate about.  Once he did, he worked so hard people thought he was insane. 

Before Brene Brown was BRENE BROWN, advisor to Oprah and best-selling author, she was a struggling college student who had epic battles with depression and had little self-worth.  Her future didn’t look so promising just 20 years ago.  But now she has one of the biggest Ted Talks in history, and it is hard to find anyone who hasn’t read her books.  

Hard Work

People have overcome so much, worked so hard to get to where they are. We could go on and on with this list.  The names are epic: 

  • Oprah
  • Elon
  • Beyonce
  • MJ
  • Jocko
  • LeBron
  • Foxx
  • JLo
  • Bezos
  • James Baldwin

They have all overcome some huge obstacles to find their way, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Divorce
  • Loss
  • Abuse
  • Failure
  • Depression
  • Pandemic

…the list is endless.  

And we’ve had to overcome so much as well. Some of us could put a check on each one listed above.  To still be where we are standing tall in 2021, you need to have some toughness, grit, and perseverance. But you have to put in the work to make it. 

One of my favorite quotes comes from Amelia Boone, who is the best obstacle course racer in the world (It’s a real thing, and she is the LeBron of racing): “No one owes you anything.”  



A hard lesson to teach your kids in this on-demand world in 2021, especially one that is trying to “hack life” at 14 years old.  What Louis doesn’t realize is that in his efforts to “hack” everything, he is learning more about the content than he would be doing it more traditionally.  He is also developing problem-solving skills and creative thinking. And honestly, it usually takes him longer to “hack” it than it would take doing it the way it was suggested.  However, he doesn’t realize the hard work he is putting in.  He also doesn’t realize that the more time he spends on something, the more likely he comes to reaching perfection.  

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Becoming Perfect

Perfection is a tricky word because I don’t mean perfect in the way you are likely thinking of it.  

Perfection in terms of the way Michael Jordan played basketball.  

Perfect in the way Tony Gwynn hit a baseball. 

Perfect in the way Misty Copeland performed on stage.

Perfect in the way Wayne Gretzky moved down the ice. 

Perfect in the way Aretha sang.  

THAT kind of perfect.  When a person works so hard they reach a level that causes you to pause.  We have so many of you that reach a level of instruction that it simply causes pause and awe.  But it didn’t come easily.  It took work, a lot of work.  A lot of time, reflection, feedback, and trial and error to reach this level of perfection.  It didn’t come with any “hacks.” It was showing up and putting in the work.  

Perfect Is There

This pandemic has forced all of us to up our game.  To take on new challenges.  For example, many of you took to YouTube, TickTock, and Twitter to find ways to reach your students.  You searched high and low.  Creativity was everywhere.  Teachers, teaching from their kitchens and living rooms complete with whiteboards and anchor charts.  


We see perfection often if we take the time to look. The sad part is we fail to realize it when it is right in front of us.  We fail to notice when we achieve it because we are too busy comparing. What you understand with years is something Louis is still learning.  Perfect is there.  Perfect is achievable but there is no easy path.  There is no hack. There is only time, persistence, and work. 

Thank you all for the work you’ve put in. Thank you for working to reach perfection.

The words we tell ourselves can make all the difference in our outlook on our life. The words we use when the latest challenge lands in front of us.

About Aaron Else

Aaron Else is an enthusiastic optimist entering his 22nd year in education. During his time in education, he has taught 1st, 2nd, and 5th grades. He has worked in administration for the past 14 years with the last 8 as principal at Hosp Elementary in Frisco ISD.

Aaron is married to Heather, and they have five kids combined and two dogs. He loves to read, workout, and watch sports.