I was inspired to write this blog post after noticing a tweet by LeadDesk, one of our successful international clients.
We all know there’s no magic bullet for success. To succeed these days the truth is, you need to work smart and hard. And if you want to accelerate yourself, you need to work smarter and harder. The same rule applies to all fronts of our lives, whether we want to reach positive results in our jobs, get in better shape physically or improve our relationships.
One company recently studied the subject of an individuals’ success and its relationship to working hard and smart. They found that quote “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard” is correct – so, if you choose only one aspect of success, choose to work hard.
Does it sound like a tough message? The good news is that everybody can work not only smart AND hard, but also smarter and harder. What is working harder then? And how to work smarter? Let’s have a look!
‘Working harder’ does not necessarily mean increasing the total working hours per day or week but improving your efficiency. Creating a habit for getting things done is an essential part of working harder, but the true hard workers are able to go into ‘crunch mode’ when needed and work, work, work. When you love what you do and get rewarded based on your results, these kind of crazy weeks can even provide you with strangely positive vibes. The sense of accomplishment is one of the greatest internal motivators for people.
So, if you start to work harder you might feel better about the work itself. Its not illogical – studies show us that people who feel successful are happier. If you want more evidence of hard work’s impact on success, read any business hero or sports champions’ autobiography. You would need to read a lot to find one where hard work was not central to individuals’ extraordinary results.
Above all, successful hard workers see a clear link between their hard efforts and their reward, whether it is self-fulfilment, learning, beating the competition, money or career development. They understand that success is doing, not being.
To be very clear on this: One does not need exceptional cognitive abilities to work smarter. As Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of success is showing up.” Most often, working smarter is just ensuring that you’re doing the right things in the right way. In the world of flooding information and constant interruptions, people lose their focus and begin to struggle sticking to very basic things. And when something is not instantly working, people start searching for ‘more optimal’ ways of working before they have even mastered the basics. This leads to confusion and even analysis paralysis. It is easier to blame the process instead of looking into the mirror. But how will humans cope in a workplace of ever accelerating data volumes, change and distraction?
A large part of working smarter is simply beginning to saying ‘no’ to less important B-priorities. If your task list piles up with duties that don’t support the success of yourself or your company, think about if you can either:
- not do them at all
- do them quickly with low quality
- delegate them
- do them later
Less is not always more, but spending less time with B-priorities helps you improve your A-priorities.
In most cases, working smarter is NOT about finding a magic tool, method or even an innovative way of working. This search for a specific tool or process is where people often go wrong. The essence of working smart is making a (short) execution plan that focuses on only doing value added things. The result-leveraging impact of working smart comes from the persistency and repetition of the right things. It is amazing how few people stick to their excellent plans! Practice makes perfect or at least practice makes smarter.
If you think your results from 2015 could be better this year, start by asking yourself: “Have I really mastered the basics and repeated them for a long-enough time?”
Are you ready to succeed in 2016?
Determination to work smart and hard is what makes for a successful individual. For these type of people long-term failure is not an option. Don’t get me wrong: successful people try and fail all the time, but then they look into a mirror and learn from their mistakes and try again. They are accountable and they never give up which takes a lot of practice and effort.
Working smart consists of an analytic approach, but smart workers do not change their ways of working just for the sake of doing something new. Instead, they stick religiously to their result-generating routines. And only if results don’t come, do they become flexible and try a new game. Successful people have a growth mindset – they see the opportunities to grow and to be better in what they do.
In a competitive world full of talented and smart people, it is nearly impossible to succeed just by working smart. If you want to maximize your odds, work smarter AND harder.
When planning your success for year 2016, ask yourself the following 7 questions:
- Have I really given my best effort?
- Are there basics I could master before changing my focus?
- Is it A-priorities or B-priorities I’m spending most of my time with?
- Am I creating successful routines and truly following them?
- When facing difficulties, how do I react?
- Can I learn anything and do better?
- What would happen if I worked smarter and harder?