In fact, there seems to be a widespread belief that those who succeed in life are naturally talented. The rest of us mere mortals just don't have it in us to be able to shoot for the stars.
Often, we can sympathise with such a view. When that cocky, laidback student manages to breeze effortlessly through exams while the rest of us struggle to pass despite our best efforts, we can only suspect that natural intelligence is their secret weapon.
What many students don't realise is that, besides intelligence and hard work, there's one more thing to factor into the equation: interest.
Education isn't usually seen as interesting. Most students see their studies as a boring necessity. Those who do well in class are often driven by high scores, not by a thirst for knowledge. While this approach can be effective in class, it does not guarantee success in life.
Likewise, many people who are born especially intelligent or talented at certain subjects don't necessarily end up excelling in their field.
If we look at successful people in any area - be it science, business or music - they all have one thing in common: a passion for what they do. Only a love of their job can push them to improve and to strive for perfection.
Now, nobody expects students to find everything they study fun and exciting. After all, we have our own strengths, weaknesses and interests. But with a little open-mindedness, we can often find that studying is not as tiresome and dull as it may seem.
It pays to do a little extra reading on a subject you don't enjoy so much.
Often, you'd be surprised by the hidden joys of gaining new knowledge! Once your interest is aroused, you may find revising far less tedious than before when you did it just for the sake of exams.
Some people say that the focus Hong Kong's education system places on exams and academic results ruins the way we learn. To a certain extent, this may be true. Exams are useful for pushing us to learn new information, but they rarely inspire curiosity or interest in a subject.
If youngsters today could put in some extra effort to enjoy what they were learning, success could be far closer than they ever thought.