My whole life I have been told “work hard and you will be successful” and “hard work always pays off”. As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that this advice sometimes seems like a load of crap. Does it take hard work to become successful? Absolutely it does but that doesn’t make it a guarantee.
Hard work is a must-have character trait of someone who wants more out of life than the average daily grind for a paycheck. However, I have worked with more than a few people who were some of the hardest workers in the room, but had little to show for their efforts. So what’s the deal? Why didn’t it pay off for them?
The truth is that hard work does eventually pay off, I firmly believe that, but there are some parameters to keep in mind when we think about our effort to find success in life.
“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” ― Vince Lombardi Jr.
The first is that, what some consider to be hard work may not actually be the hard work that is needed. Hard work is defined as – a great deal of effort or endurance, but it’s so much more than that. There are also elements of determination, grit, persistence, and determined stubbornness included in its true definition.
The second is that our focus is often scattered and our efforts are aimed in 20 different directions, in other words we aren’t working efficiently. When we try to accomplish too many different tasks at one time, we often end up accomplishing nothing but perpetual exhaustion.
Third, we often mistake busyness for hard work but that doesn’t make it so. When we run from task to task, some important and some unimportant, we feel like we are making progress when in reality, we are just spinning our wheels in a pit of wasted energy. The key is to focus primarily on one or two top priorities. Once you decide what those priorities are, then work like hell with an intense focus everyday to usher them into reality.
“Know your priorities and identify the five powerful action steps that you intend to take to move your initiatives forward each day. If you go to a tree with an ax and take five whacks at the tree every day, it doesn’t matter if it’s an oak or a redwood; eventually, the tree has to fall down.” – Jack Canfield
Lastly, when success doesn’t come as quickly as we think that it should, we grow impatient and give up. Hard work is more than waking up early and going to bed late. It has to be built around a consistent, focused and determined effort day in and day out until we accomplish our mission.
“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” – Vince Lombardi
Most importantly, all of this needs to be centered around an intrinsic motivation and a goal that’s meaningful to us. This internal drive must be stronger than the forces that push against us if we are to be successful. If our motivations are hollow, we won’t get back up when we get knocked down (and we will always get knocked down), instead we will abandon ship.
Establish a goal, put in the hours, know and understand your motivation, and keep moving forward each and every day. When you’re tired, work hard anyway. When you feel discouraged, work harder. When you face adversity, figure out a way to get around it. Develop the mindset of relentless forward progress and make a commitment to yourself that nothing will stop you from achieving success.