When something hard looks hard, we know it’s hard. Clues betray it: Sweat drips. Muscles shake from fatigue. A lip juts out in concentration.

When something hard looks easy, it can fool us into thinking it is.

It’s likely the person we’re watching has poured so much effort, practice and work into mastering the activity, it really has become smoother to do. But that doesn’t take away the dogged persistence invested to perfect the talent. Think of an accomplished teacher, the novelist who carries us to other lands or dancer who floats. Mastering those skills might make them look easy. But getting there demanded grit and guts. (That’s why overnight success rarely is.)

Hard-won skills make some things look simple. But simple is earned. And simple is hard.