- Standard of Business
- Producing Real Value
- The Harming of Others
- Directed Passion and Hard Work
- The Handshake
- Misdirection and Deception
- Partnerships of Trust
- Amorality of Money
- Money: A Means, Not an End
- The Great Liege Lord: Greed
- Human Relationships, Not Numbers
- Losing with Honor
- The Trap of Zero-Sum Thinking
- Align or Die!
- Creating Shared Stakeholder Value
- Capitalism: The Powers of Good and Evil
- Guarding Growth
From our earliest times, the value of hard work has been ingrained into American society. We find it anchored in the beliefs of the early Protestant pilgrims, and have seen it reinvigorated over the years with the constant flow of immigrants drawn to this new land of opportunity.
In fact, it’s even heavily ingrained into our cultural beliefs in what makes us happy.
This has had some good, as well as bad, consequences in our society. Over its history, America has had growth and success unprecedented in the history of mankind. The traditional American work ethic has been seen as the gold standard throughout the world for generations.
We also now find ourselves working ourselves to death. In fact, we don’t seem to know when to stop working.
Now, to be completely clear, I am all for hard work. Coming from a line of entrepreneurs, the value of hard work was ingrained from my earliest childhood. I’m thankful for it, and also have to admit I’ve overdone it at times, as well.
I think all are familiar with the maxim, “Work smarter, not harder”. Our daily business lives are assaulted by many other such proverbs basically saying the same thing. However, I don’t think they are entirely correct, or, in other words, they don’t contain the full truth.
I’d like to suggest something like this:
Work smarter then work harder.
Additionally, it’s more than just working harder or smarter that’s important. What we are working for is also key.
The Designed Life
This last summer I had the opportunity to listen to Michael Hyatt, renowned leadership guru, talk at a conference. In addition to telling some very personal stories, he talked about the Designed Life.
In this, he asks three poignant questions for us all to answer:
- How do you want to be remembered?
- What matters most to you?
- What single brave decision do you need to make today?
I specifically want to focus on the second question: “What matters most to you?”
We spend so much of our time at work. For reference, let’s look at time spent with a normal 40-hour workweek with a healthy 8-hours sleep a night:
|WORK (40 hours)||OTHER (72 hours)||SLEEP (56 hours)||= 168 hours|
That, in my opinion, is fairly reasonable. True, much of the “Other” time is tied up in the weekend, but that’s manageable. Still, notice, work takes a significant portion (23.8%).
However, many of us don’t work that way. Once we add in all of the “ON” time where even though we aren’t at work we are still mentally there, the following picture is probably more realistic (at least it has been in my experience):
|WORK (80 hours)||OTHER (46 hours)||SLEEP (42 hours)||= 168 hours|
You know part of the myth of our culture is you can do it all. And, I don’t really believe that. I believe that you can do anything you want; you just can’t do everything you want. And so therefore, life, if you are going to […] live it by design, if you are going to live a Designed Life, it has to be based on priorities and choosing consciously the priorities that will guide your life.
~ Michael Hyatt
I love the statement “choosing consciously“. We have the power to choose, and I suggest we follow our passions.
Find something you to do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
Now again, I want to be clear I’m not bashing hard work. I love hard work. There is no substitute for it. There is no magic yellow brick road that will manage to take you to your dreams (or home) without hard work (even for Dorthy). Still, to work for something you are passionate about is far better than to live a quiet life of desperation if a job you hate.
Work hard. Always.
But Passion Doesn’t Pay
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard (or thought) this. We’ve had it ingrained in us since the time we were little that some vocations should be avoided because they don’t pay enough. Enough for what?
The most useful topics for work are at the top. So, you were probably benignly steered away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music; you aren’t going to be a musician. Don’t do art; you won’t be an artist. Benign advice—now, profoundly mistaken.
We are now living in a new, interconnected world. People are continuously finding new and creative ways to be paid for doing what they love—paid for their passion. Let’s not give up on it just quite yet.
Now, one thing I often find is that the real “problem” is the working on the passion is not as lucrative as doing other work.
That’s an entirely different problem.
Now we are going into the real of “needs” and “wants” and all of the associated emotional and mental baggage that comes along with those items. I’m not going to get into a discussion on American consumerism today and its skewing affects on “needs’ and “wants” other than to say most of us have far more than we need and are stuck supporting the material possessions we need and want.
We’ve become possessed by our possessions.
Now, in fairness, there are some who simply are at the stage where they need to work to survive—where any job is acceptable. Survival takes precedence over passion any day.
When you don’t know what to do, go for TOV. Go for TOV. TOV is […] when what you are doing is a full expression of who you are at the core of your being, in such a way that it contributes to the other people around you, and it is in alignment with what life, with what creation needs from you.
In other words, strive to find inner passion in what you are doing, even when the outer passion isn’t there.
What E’re Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part
There’s an old Gaelic proverb, Deannadh gach neach a dhicheal, which translated into English is roughly “What e’re thou art, act well thy part”, or in other words, in whatever situation you find yourself, do your best.
I was first introduced to this saying as I entered the training center at the beginning of two years of volunteer work I did starting when I was nineteen years old. It’s stuck with me ever since. They are words to live by.
So, where have we gotten?
Basically, I think there are a few key takeaways from this discussion:
- Always work hard.
- Search for your passions.
- Apply hard work to the passions.
- Seek a balanced life.
- Always, regardless of circumstance, do your best.
I know those things can be hard sometimes, but I also believe they are part of the path that leads to a happy and fulfilled life. It’s too easy to be blinded as to what is important by worldly standards: possessions, prestige and honor. Those are fine to have, but we must be careful what we sacrifice for them in the pursuit thereof.
Take a few minutes to review the three questions asked by Michael Hyatt. Answer them for yourself. Then go and act with passion, hard work and determination.
Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams.
~ Donovan Bailey
Do great things.
Full videos of talks mentioned in this article.
Michael Hyatt at WDS 2014
Sir Ken Robinson at TED 2006
John Scherer at TEDxKrakow