• Kurt Schmidt

Why working hard and doing a good job is NOT (necessarily) a recipe for success

Do you remember that friendly, caring, loving parental advice you received about working hard and doing a good job?

I would think most of us have had that talk at some point in our childhood. (If you didn’t then hopefully it was because you had super smart parents who realised that it might not be a good strategy).

What does working hard mean and look like? Working hard means different things to different people: to some it is long hours, both in and out of the office. To others it is working 10 minutes longer than the boss (10 minutes so that she doesn’t see you leaving the office just after she has), it can mean having a “to do” list that is impossibly long or wearing your stress on your sleeve so that everyone can see just how much you have on your plate. “Working hard” actually doesn’t mean anything: it is totally dependent on the culture of the organisation for which you work. And remember this – if it’s your business you create that culture.

What does doing a “good job” look like? Well, it’s exactly like “working hard”. It depends on who’s judging: It could be having lots of plates spinning at the same time or it could be concentrating on one task and seeing it through to the end. It could be getting 80% done and then moving on to the next task because getting 80% of the next job done is more productive than finishing the last 20% of the previous job.

Working hard and doing a good job are just different ways of describing the way you expend your energy. And if you are expending your energy in ways that are not moving you forward on your desired path you are wasting it.

One of the most common things I hear when talking to people is that they spend a lot of time and energy doing what they think they SHOULD do and not what they WANT to do and this leads to one place; stress and dissatisfaction.

So here’s the irony, if you are not on the path of doing something that you want to do; the harder you work and the better the job you do the more stress and dissatisfaction you will create. As you become more successful at doing what you SHOULD do you move farther away from doing what you WANT.

There are only two ways out of this conundrum:

1. Find a way of bringing what you WANT to do in line with you are doing. In this video, the late, great Zig Ziglar relates the story of a woman who he helped to deal with this very issue.

2. Stop doing what you SHOULD and identify what it is you really WANT to do and go for it. This is infinitely harder than it sounds and because of that 99% of people will never attempt it. It will require:-

a. A deep examination of what you REALLY want, have you ever thought about it? b. The courage to admit to yourself, your family and friends and the people you work for/with. c. The determination to take a different path.

This is why most people don’t ever think about it and just live on, feeling unfulfilled in their jobs. Many people square this circle by accepting that the job they hold and the work they do enables the lifestyle that they enjoy; and there is nothing wrong with that. But…

If you are under stress and you are just living with it then you are potentially living with a time bomb.

Stress causes the hormones cortisol and adrenalin to be released into the body. In short bursts the body is designed to cope with this but consistent, continuous long term exposure is now known to cause hardened arteries, affect the immune system and many other symptoms including the increased likelihood of developing diabetes.

We have been living in a world where the pressure is to work longer hours and to be available seven days a week. The internet, faster and easier communication has contributed to this and the innovation in these areas of technology is only going to increase these pressures.

If you have to be switched on to work 24/7 make sure that you’re working hard and doing a good job on something that you really WANT to do.

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