“Work ethic” seems to a be a perception difficult to share. One man's version of hard work could seem like a vacation to another - the “your workout is my warm-up” philosophy. It's a pretty common belief that, if you come from a family of immigrants, you have been instilled with a pretty powerful work ethic. It's pretty hard to argue with that. Anyone who has traveled to America since the turn of the century (the 20th) perusing a dream only realized that dream by working hard. Those born with the proverbial “silver spoon” in their mouths are routinely accused of not appreciating what they have because it was handed to them. That may be true for some, but I can't imagine seeing an arial view of the 405 freeway, during evening rush hour, and not being grateful you're not sentenced to ten trips a week, as nothing more than scale on the endless red and white snake that agonizingly creeps through the LA basin and across the Fernando valley. After all, “motivation” is the fuel of hard work. “Keeping it” is just as hard as “making it.” Maybe harder when faced with an alternative as horrendous as being an LA commuter (when it's not locked down).
The point is, regardless of where - or on what end - of the spectrum you may stand, hard work is the common denominator that binds us. Hard work is the difference between making/ keeping it and not making it or losing it. And, nowhere is that more evident in the physiques we seek to build. Work ethic, or lack thereof is by far the limiting factor in building or not building your body; not to mention maintaining it.
The 90's has long been revered as the most prolific in bodybuilding. During no other period before, or since, have we seen the lineups on stage so deep. The symmetry, the lines, the conditioning were all brought to levels so high that the greatest of the greats today couldn't stand next to them. Unilaterally, the opinions fostered by those who follow the sport all boil down to hard work. The Gods of the era look at those clawing their way to the top today and say, “you call that clawing??? Shiiiit.” And that does seem to be the consensus. They just don't work as hard today. Of course such a statement is ripe for blowback from those who think they're throwing down like an animal twice a day. And they may be right. Or, totally deluded. Reality probably leans heavily toward the latter, because of the obvious fact that the 90's era lineup still hasn't been reproduced. I'm sure there are guys out there truly working hard. But, for whatever reason, very few of them are bringing 90s era proof to the stage.
Perhaps you could say that the 90's separated the old school from the new school. It might be the most fair way to look at it. The trick for the old schooler though is to maintain the old school ethics and stay relevant today in an era where “old School” is a bit misunderstood. Without walking a mile in someone else's training shoes it's hard to fathom. More than a few guys are doing it though. One of them is Mike O'Hearn. This is not the place to get into why or how he's a model of a bygone era as well as a force today. He does that in a great interview with Rich Gaspari and John Romano, on Fitness Fame & Fortune
A previous episode with CT Fletcher also gives you a great example of the old school work ethic and how it breeds success
At the end of the day, your success will all boil down to a couple of things: hard work and a little luck. How can you best quantify “hard work?” That's easy. All you have to remember that no matter how hard you think you're working, your competitor is working harder. If you can think like that, nothing will stop you.