“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
In the fast-growing world we live in, people assume that hard work alone leads to a higher salary and elevated level of respect. People spend their lives slaving away, only to later come to the realization that all their hard work was for naught. Of course, hard work is important but it does not supersede other essential skills. Working hard can have great monetary and social benefits but only if accompanied by diligence and sensible judgment, all while keeping an eye on the finish line. In the last few decades, the term ‘hard work’ has lost significant meaning from its original connotation.
Before the Industrial Revolution in 1790, a great amount of effort was needed to accomplish everyday tasks. Dish washing, laundry and transportation required an immense amount of physical labor. That was real hard work. Nowadays, when all these tasks have been completely automated, our standards of hard work have dropped dramatically. In order to really understand hard work, one should compare his work to those who lived two or three generations ago. If we realize how relatively easy our lives are today and how little effort we are really utilizing, we may come to use our time more wisely.
Another way we can succeed at applying ourselves is by putting some sensible thought into what we are accomplishing. If an architect stays up until two in the morning drawing the final sketches for a project, he may feel accomplished. Yet, the next day he will be exhausted; a counterproductive outcome. Whatever your job is, you have to pace yourself wisely in order to stay on track.
Moreover, sometimes hard work can actually be circumvented by finding alternate solutions that require less effort and produce better outcomes. Using a vacuum requires a fraction of the time and effort as cleaning a floor by hand and still yields better results. If we put some thought into the work we are doing, we can hopefully come to utilize our strengths to the maximum.
It is important to always keep in mind what we are trying to achieve in the long run. Some people work very hard but never progress in their jobs, since their effort is all concentrated on the task at hand. An accountant may work tirelessly on his daily workflow but without a long-term plan, his career will remain stagnant. If you really want to move up the ranks, you need to have a goal in mind.
Smart work means using your time and abilities wisely to get to your final goal; whereas hard work, while it may seem rewarding, can turn out to be a waste of time. The words of executive coach Lois P. Frankel ring true in our ears, “It’s a myth that people get ahead because they work hard. The truth is, no one ever got promoted purely because of hard work.”
Hard work is an essential component to getting ahead in our careers, but that should not supersede other important factors. Proper time management, sensible judgment and being conscientious of our future are all imperative to the success we yearn for. When the working force realizes the truth of these words, our world will be filled with efficient and smart-working citizens. Only then, will people apply themselves properly and develop into happy and accomplished individuals who do not waste the precious time we are allotted.