Most of us have grown up with the common perception that hard work naturally equates to greater success. Added to this is the notion that we are only working hard if we are at the point of absolute exhaustion. There is no denying the value of working hard. More and more business analysts are beginning to critique the assumption. Hard work alone always equates to success. Assuming it was truly the case, more people would be successful around the world. As such, hard work is also about the opportunities we’re afforded, working smart, and finding balance.
When it comes to hard work, here are a few things to ponder:
Hard work is important, but it cannot be looked out without acknowledging opportunity
As educator and author Devin Thorpe poignantly shares:
“Success in life does require hard work. The sort of success we generally aspire to in the prosperous, industrialized countries of the world, also requires or depends upon opportunities.”
Thorpe follows this with some sobering facts, noting that “fewer than 20 % of employment-age Americans who have a disability are employed” and continues to reveal that those with tertiary education will, on average, earn “more than twice what high school dropouts earn.” Added to this, professional degrees can see a 60 % wage increase and thus, hard work alone cannot account for these socio-economic divisions.
Thus, the reductive statement that hard work will always lead to success fails to acknowledge how the various intersections that shape our lives will largely determine our ability to access better employment opportunities. Many people work exceptionally hard. And, they still earn the bare minimum and this is certainly not a reflection on their work ethic or drive.
Working hard is also about working smart
Much has been written on the ‘glorification of busyness’, and this can be detrimental to wellbeing and businesssuccess. As business coach Lisa Quast shares:
“As a society, we need to stop glorifying being busy. We need to stop competing against each other for who is the busiest. Chronic busyness should not be a badge of honor or status symbol. It is a warning sign that things need to change. Now, go schedule that summer vacation (there’s still time).”
Perpetual busyness can lead to a number of emotional and physical health problems. They can actually hinder your effectiveness at work. Unsurprisingly, enervation and fatigue can negatively impact business success. Thus, hard work is also about working smart and maximizing your time.
Hard work equates to action, but balance is key
Nonetheless, working hard and working smart is also about taking meaningful action. While we shouldn’t burn ourselves out or risk our health under the badge of working hard. It is essential to keep moving, even if that pace is a mere crawl sometimes. As the famous story of the tortoise and the hare showed us, “sometimes slow and steady really does win the race. ”Broadcaster and football Jimmy Johnson further shares:
“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”
Thus, doing a little extra, and doing some of that which inspires you, will always yield positive results. This, however, is not the same thing as never having a rest or a day off.
Hard work is a complex concept and cannot be solely judged on financial or career success. Hard work should also never override the importance of quality of life. A continual movement and doing a little extra can make a world of difference. It is essential to find balance if you want your hard work to pay off. Moreover, you want it to be a sustainable endeavour. Hard work is thus about maximising your time and using it effectively.
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