Rona Dougall: Real fame means real effort and dedication

ALBERT EINSTEIN once said: “Genius is 1 per cent talent and 99 per cent hard work.”

I recited this quote to my daughter last week in a desperate bid to try and persuade her of the importance of practising her violin every day.

She just looked at me with ill-disguised disgust, as I was holding her back from watching some trashy American teen show. “Albert who?” her expression said.

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So I tried another tack and told her about the young woman I had interviewed on Scotland Tonight the evening before.

Scottish violin virtuoso Nicola Benedetti has been playing the violin since she was four and half years old. By the age of ten she was practising for hours every day. Her mother used to have to force her to stop. Even now she hones her craft every day for up to five hours.

It’s true, she says, the harder you work, the luckier you get. She has no time for programmes like the X Factor and Big Brother, where people hope instant stardom will fall into their laps with little effort required.

She told me: “I don’t like to judge what people do or don’t understand, but I know what we can have more of, which is a promotion of dedication, of daily work, of something that’s a little bit calmer, a little bit more steady and actually in the end a lot more fulfilling. That focus teaches us more about what we are about and gives us a better insight into ourselves.”

Her words are music to my ears. Forget Cheryl Cole and Kate Moss, here is a worthy role model for young people. And she is delightful too – extremely talented, modest and self-deprecating – but above all, a grafter.

We seem to have an abundance of people to inspire us at the moment with the Olympic and the Paralympic games. Athletes who show us what hard work and dedication can achieve. Benedetti believes that has been a huge inspiration to children.

“It’s a dream for someone like me to see a message so solid, screamed so loudly”, she says. “The message is so full of substance and has reached such a massive audience, I just hope that it doesn’t fall by the wayside and get forgotten after the games are all finished.”

Look at athletes like Jessica Ennis, who have spent years plugging away at their sport, enduring gruelling training regimes six days a week to get to the top.

Or Sir Chris Hoy, who pushes himself so hard at work that buckets are strategically placed around the velodrome where he trains in Manchester so can he vomit afterwards.

Clare Balding has emerged as the star of the Olympic presenting team and I’m delighted to see she’s singing from the same hymn sheet as Benedetti.

Asked last week if she was a healthier role model than Posh Spice, she said she didn’t want to put anyone down but that it was important that hard work is valued.

She said: “I go into schools and am always horrified when I ask kids what they think the best things about my job are. Invariably they say: being famous, travelling the world, earning lots of money.

“Those are three things I really don’t care about. When some kid says to me: ‘I want an Olympic gold medal’, I think, good on them. You have to work bloody hard for that – you can’t just turn up at an audition.”

When Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, died last week, he was described as a reluctant hero, who changed the face of 
history.

In a statement his family said that while they mourned the loss of a good man, they also celebrated his remarkable life and hoped that is would serve as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true.

“For those who may ask what they can do to honour Neil, we have a simple request. Honour his example of service, accomplishment and modesty.”

We can only hope that messages like these inspire our children to reach for the stars through their own efforts and determination, rather than waiting for a wand to be waved by some reality TV show producer, bestowing instant but ultimately empty fame.