If you don’t know what this series of ‘Guiding Principle’ posts is all about check out my previous blog post. The reason I started with this one (Work Smart AND Hard) is because a while back I kept hearing everyone talking about how one of the keys to being successful is working smarter, not harder. The blog posts, articles and discussions I was reading stopped being about general work ethic and started focusing much more on efficiencies. It then seemed to turn into people looking for short cuts and the easy way out. While I completely agree that we need to be more efficient and thoughtful about what we do and how we do it I have a far stronger belief that there is no substitute for working your ass off.
At my first start up I was the VP of Sales and had 5 reps reporting to me. There came a time when I started to hear the rumblings from them about how I was working them twice as hard as any of their friends and paying them half as much. Meanwhile not one of them ever beat me into the office in the morning or stayed later than I did at night. So, instead of having a meeting to discuss it or just plain ignoring it I decided to take them on a field trip in the middle of the day. They were happy with the break and asked me where we were going. I said we were going to the movies but didn’t tell them which one. The movie ended up being ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ with Will Smith. They walked about with a much clearer understanding of what hard work is really all about and what it truly takes to be great. If you think waking up, grabbing a warm cup of coffee, getting into the office around 8:30, checking your fantasy league, making a few cold calls and going home by 6 is working hard then congratulations – you’re going to be average for the rest of your life.
Yes, there are only so many hours in the day and there is a certain point where we just can’t work any harder than we do and you hit our breaking point. However, when was the last time you or anyone you knew actually found what that breaking point was? Until we do, we’ll never find out how good we can actually be. Wake up a little earlier tomorrow, stay a little later, make the extra call at the end of the day and go watch Pursuit of Happyness to understand what hard work and dedication is all about and where it can take you.