A phrase is tossed around with great intentions, yet few truly take advantage of its mantra. You read it on numerous motivational materials which inspire people to follow the message by trusting superstition. Now let’s discuss this phrase:
“The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
You know what many people qualify as hard work? You cold call hundreds of people disrupting their lives or leaving messages on their answering machines. You put your head down to build spreadsheet after spreadsheet with masterful formulas to impress someone that notices, “Wow, you put a lot of effort into this.” Or, you join meeting after meeting where you leave with a perplexed attitude because you ponder why your attendance was necessary.
I mention these three examples of typical “hard work” because how do these responsibilities advance your career?
Hard Work Creates …
Hard work means getting tasks done for your career, your employer, your employees, your customers/clients, or everyone aforementioned. Professionally, your work needs to provide value to someone so they want to tell their friends.
- Hard work is only hard work if it challenges you to solve a problem that you can’t easily solve.
People often compliment me for being a hard-worker yet I never took it seriously until recently. I previously felt like I wasn’t doing enough because my calendar wasn’t filled with an hour-by-hour itinerary. I pondered this conundrum and tried to understand why people offered this compliment. Recently, I figured out why: Results.
I’m creating results by hosting events, writing articles, starting new business ventures, helping organizations, prospecting potential clients, on-boarding new clients, serving my existing clients, studying for more certifications, and getting my name out into my communities and networks.
Even with these responsibilities and activities, moments surfaced that hindered my confidence because I just stared at my computer and couldn’t figure out how to occupy my time. Can you relate to this? Time management is a common LinkedIn skill yet so many encounter these issues daily.
Time Management is the difference between A) going home with high-energy enthusiasm about your accomplishments; or B) waiting for a reasonable hour to appear on your computer that allows you to go home with a furrowed brow look of confusion. This confused feeling arises due to the uncertainty of how your day benefitted your progress. Luckily, for me, these days are few and far between and let me tell you why.
Sadly, this revelation occurred the expensive way. When my calendar wasn’t filled with meeting after meeting, I felt like I needed to do something to get people in the door so we could explore a possible business relationship. In order to stay busy, I hosted a seminar and wanted to get the word out. Marketing for my industry is a challenge where we are limited to snail mail campaigns. I spent over a grand of my own money to promote this event. Yes, over $1,000.00 on stamps, a mailing list of people in a certain life stage and demographic, envelopes, paper, printer ink, and pizza for a friend to help me stuff thousands of envelopes.
At the seminar, I asked each attendee how they discovered this informational session and not one mentioned a mailer. GOOD GRIEF! I asked two local websites to list my seminar beforehand and that’s why people showed up. The seminar was fun and I met some nice people, but no new clients. My efforts to stay busy caused me to spend money, exhaust energy planning the event, and gain no new rewards besides polishing my public speaking skills.
The lesson learned: Don’t work hard to remain busy. You can find more productive ways to better your professional career than just finding ways to stay busy. Just like a cheetah going after its prey, it utilizes a specific strategy to identify a weak member of a herd so it can efficiently spend it’s energy to get a kill. Be intentional with your efforts rather than just blindly shooting darts or crunching numbers to just feel like you’re doing something.
- Empty spots in your calendar don’t destroy your momentum. Empty moments in your life do.
Task A: Complete; Task B: Bring it On!
Instead of filling up your calendar, fill up your life. Work with intention. Work hard to feel
accomplishment. To gain the feeling of accomplishment, one must accomplish. Get in the habit of forming some key tasks that you want to accomplish that day. Not for the week, not for the month, not for the year. Focus on the day at hand. After you can trust yourself to fulfill a day’s “to-do list” you can then graduate to making the longer-term lists.
It is important to know that tasks can be added throughout the day if a situation arises. The early morning to-do list usually won’t look like the end-of-day list. Each day’s To-Do list can consist of tasks that involve these themes:
- Work tasks that you want to finish that day.
- Issues caused by phone calls or emails that came out of left field.
- New projects to better your business’ goals.
- Teach yourself new subjects that better an existing skill or creates an entirely new skill for your internal portfolio of strengths.
Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair
“The harder you work, the luckier you get.” When followed blindly, this phrase is more similar to “Double, double toil and trouble.” To begin, the noun “toil” describes hard and continuous work. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the three witches prepared their cauldron while saying this famous literary quote before their first encounter with Macbeth. The phrase alludes towards the contradictions of the hard work in Macbeth’s future that will actually lead him to agony. You can even make the argument that his hard work created his destruction.
When confronted with temptation and uncertainty, Macbeth was quick to action and worked hard so he could fulfill the witches’ prophecy as soon as he could. How this analogy relates to time management is that you need to understand how to work hard to better your life rather than just work hard because you were told to. Or in this case, Macbeth felt like the prophecy justified his hard work.
Another virtue to embrace that Macbeth avoided is patience. All good things come with hard work and the dedication to persevere. Work hard with purpose, targeted decisions, and intention to better your professional setting today so you can enjoy the journey towards the successes in your future.