I have decided I hate the phrase “work hard”. Every success article I read talks about the importance of working hard. And yes, I get it, we can’t just sit back and wait for success to fall in our laps, we have to be willing to stand up and go get it. What I hate about the phrase is that it is meaningless. What the heck does “work hard” look like? How hard? To what extent. What if I work hard but maybe a little less hard than someone else will I not succeed? Or why does it feel like I am sometimes working so much harder than other people who are more successful than me.
What the heck does “work hard” mean? Thus far in my career it seems to be a phrase designed to pour judgment down on my head. Successful people work hard. I am not successful. Therefore, I do not work hard. Are we all following the logic equation here?
I give myself the “work hard” pep talk all the time but find myself constantly asking myself how hard? Since I am not where I want to be I must need to work harder. But then one must ask, harder than what? Harder than whom? Does working hard mean I need to put in more hours? If I spend the evening with my family, if I take a day off on the weekend, if I say no to a request for extra hours or extra work because I just can’t do 7 days a week, does that mean I am not working hard enough? And therefore I won’t have success?
It is easy to see on the other side of success that you worked hard, you made sacrifices, you stuck it out, you did what needed to be done and you are enjoying the fruit of your labor. But on this side, what the heck does “work hard” look like?
Going forward I reject this totally unhelpful piece of advice. Unfortunately since I have literally never read an encouraging business or success article that did not include the phrase I am forced to read around it. Here is something from an article I read this morning that I think will help me get around my frustration with constantly wondering, “Am I working hard?”
“Success is never inevitable. It’s easy to look back on an entrepreneurial path to greatness and assume that every vision was clear, every plan was perfect, every step was executed flawlessly, and tremendous success was a foregone conclusion,” says Shah. “Success is never predestined. If you’re willing to work hard and persevere, who you are is sufficient–because when you work hard and persevere, who you become is definitely more than enough to do something significant.”
While I am rejecting the “work hard” phrase I do like the word persevere. I do like the reminder that while it is easy to look back after you have achieved success and see how worked hard and did all the right things but in the midst of it…who knows? So I just keep working and persevering and believing that what I am doing will pay off, that I do have a plan, I am going somewhere and in the end God will provide.