Hard work is not a skill and it does not take talent to work hard. I woke up this morning with this observation in my head.
I thought about it for a while. I pondered what working hard meant, what it said about a person.
First, don’t confuse hard work with busy work.
Some people rush around, flapping their arms and their gums, trying to show the world they are in high demand. Or showing the world they are somehow superior because they’re so extremely busy that they have no time to sit around and talk—even if that talk is a functional meeting of minds.
Busy work doesn’t fill a need. It just takes up time.
Hard work is done when an individual or team goes full-force after achieving a goal. They know where they want to be and the golden idol waiting for them at the end of this effort. More importantly, they know why. Why do I need to do this? Why does it matter? Why is it critical that I do it now?
Hard work happens when you stop watching the clock, when you stop complaining about how many other things you need to do or the fact that no one else works as hard as you do.
Hard work happens when you set aside selfish concerns that deliver minimum return on your effort.
Hard work comes from a commitment to following through on what you want, need, or have promised. It comes without excuses.
Have you ever been so deeply into a project or activity that you lose all sense of time? Nothing distracts you because you’re so intently focused on what you’re working on at that moment and what it is going to become when you’re done. Do you recall the exhilaration you felt when you discovered how “in the moment” you were?
That, my friend, is hard work. It is intentionally moving ahead. It is the ability to prioritize and to focus.
Hard work starts when your heart and mind align in perfect synchronicity, each agreeing that what you are setting out to do is the best use of your time. In that collaborative agreement of logic and emotion, you have every tool you need to succeed.
Hard work is not a talent, but it can be fueled by one.
This leads me back to my initial thought. Hard work is not a skill and it does not take talent to work hard. Skill is something you develop. You might have the natural ability, but you practice, learn, train, and keep working in order to become proficient, and maybe even an expert.
When I hear people talk about the long hours they “put in”, I have to ask. “And what did you gain from what you deposited?”
Quite often, I see that it’s merely the bragging rights. If they were to be honest with themselves, they would know that they could have worked smarter with better results, and in less time. And they might even realize that very few people were impressed with the long hours and more concerned with the results, or lack thereof.
Hard work is not a skill you keep in your toolkit. And calling yourself a hard worker on your resume means nothing if you can’t show the results of that labor. If you don’t have achievements to list, don’t include “hard worker” in your description.
A talented person seems set up to succeed. But without putting in the work, talent alone will not lead you to reach your potential.
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team but he worked very hard to overcome that misconception—because he knew in his heart he was far better than they could see.
Albert Einstein said that “Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work.”
He also said, “Thinking is hard work. That’s why so few do it.”
I agree with both.
What IS hard work?
Hard work is the product of dedication and that passion you hear so much about. In reality, working hard isn’t hard when you’re doing it for the right reasons.
I wonder what thought will occupy my head tomorrow.