OK, I'm a 2e kid, more familiar with the Panther of the chapter comics and WHAT THE CHRIST ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, and you just made me go "holy shit that guy's actually pretty cool."
Wanting more is a wonderful driver of heroic stories.
He is pretty cool. He's not like a "hero who achieves supernatural levels of awesomeness through nothing more than hard work and dedication" at all.
He's a hero who was chosen by the Unconquered Sun because he was pretty cool and his chutzpah - because of his character, not because he worked hard for it.
You can regard that as earned, sure, I just do not see it as pure "hard work and dedication" in the sense described by the OP and BrilliantRain's quoted text. Which is my point. He may have worked hard, may have been naturally talented - CB : Zenith isn't really clear. He's just not a character who strove to improve himself and to be the best in world (certainly not in any kind of sustained long term way) and got rewarded for it or anything, or who was Exalted because he strove beyond mortal limits.
If you want to see that as "hard work and dedication", then I guess you can, it just seems more like character to me - particularly in this context. It seems a bit disingeous and specious rhetoric to call what Panther and Havesh have "hard work and dedication". I'm not super interested in word gaming this out though, so whatever helps as a model.