If you try to shortcut the game, the game will try to shortcut you. If you are true to the game, the game will be true to you. – Michael Jordan
“Hard work.” This is the most common answer when successful people are asked what is the one controllable variable that is most likely to get you to the top. Hard work, however, for all its practical importance, is not a clear concept. It is different for every field of practice and for every task. And why is it even relevant? Aren’t farmers and construction workers working hard all the time? Why aren’t they rich and successful?
Hard work is not a straight answer to the question of how to be successful. It can mislead the careless. It can sometimes do more damage than good. It is a double-edged sword. You have to respect it. Only then will it respect you and your efforts. Sacrifice is required. Wise sacrifice is the most rewarding.
How to get Hard Work Right
Just grinding forward won’t get you far and only burn you out. You have to think before you act. Find out what you really want first. Cultivate this mental image until you can’t stop thinking about it and it fills you with a burning passion. Then devise a plan on how to get what you want and put it into practice. Don’t try to make it perfect; that will only block you. More important is a decent plan that is actually put into action. This is wise sacrifice.
Only then get your hands dirty until they bleed and you have reached your objective. Make sure to step back every once in a while and see if you’re still on track. If not, correct your course. Again, it’s not about speed or perfection; it’s about steady and honest work.
Three Benefits of Working Hard
If done right, working diligently and with all your heart can bear the sweetest fruits you will ever taste:
1. You Become an Expert
Only if you are better at something than most, people will prefer your services over those of others. Only then will you have leverage to negotiate for either earning more money, getting access to more useful contacts or more exciting tasks. But the only way to get better is by delving deeper and deeper into the matter. The more you immerse yourself, the greater an expert you will become and the more you will be in demand.
2. You Find a Purpose
There is nothing in life that is as rewarding and fulfilling as working on something that you enjoy while also providing a real value to others. Think swimming in cash and not having to do anything is fun? Think again. Humans are wired to be working on something useful. Once you work hard on something you care about, you feel that you belong, that you are complete. No cheap rewards or money of any sum can give you that.
3. You Earn Serendipity Units
What many successful people over the millennia have described in various terms can also be called Serendipity Units (SU). Serendipity means getting positive things through luck that has been created by your previous well-intended and honest actions - not unlike Karma. If you work hard on the right things, that is, within your concise plan for success, you will build up your SU Account and thus keep reaping the rewards as interest in form of favorable events. It’s no coincidence that those with the largest SU numbers also tend to have the biggest bank accounts.
The Three Safest Ways to Get Used to Working Hard
All the above is useless, if you don’t actually get started. However, it’s called hard work for a reason. If you’re not used to it, working hard really sucks at first; just like pizza dough that’s hard to shape at first and only gets softer after putting in the required effort. That’s why you need to have a working plan on how to cultivate a positive attitude towards working hard. These key elements will help you get started:
1. Start Small, but be Consistent
There are a hundred, if not a thousand, things you do every day. Not everything is helping you achieve your goals. Still, you can develop a habit of working well, if you start working well in the small things also. Every brick that you lay is part of the overall temple of success that you are building. So lay every single one as perfectly as possible.
2. Track your Progress
Where ever you start – write down regularly, e.g. at the end of every month, what you have accomplished and how far away you still are from achieving your goal. Sooner or later, you’ll lose some of your initial fire. That’s okay; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. But re-energize that desire by looking at how far you’ve come already. It will make you proud and hopeful at once.
3. Keep your Momentum at all Costs
Like the mentioned pizza dough, working hard towards success takes the greatest amount of effort right at the beginning. The universe likes stability. So you trying to change something will meet with some resistance at first. But that also means that once you have changed your perspective and are working towards reaching your goals, the world will also try to conserve that new state. That is fantastic news! It means that you’re not only getting closer by the day, succeeding is actually becoming more and more natural to you and thus a little easier by the day. So stay positive and productive to keep your momentum and profit from the benefits it bestows upon you.
Hard work and sacrifice is not a simple concept. But once you have integrated it harmoniously into your life, it will become the vessel that transports you to success. Do not fear it any longer. While being uncomfortable at first, it is actually your greatest ally.