We live in results driven economy. Employers, clients, and people–at the end of the day–are interested in one thing: results. The days are gone when hard work for the sake of hard work mattered. It’s now all about producing; not so much about the style of performance, rather the outcomes of it.
This article is about better understanding your value in this results-based economy. Specifically, the focus is about the idea of hard work and the misconception that it’s a major factor of one’s value, because that’s simply not the case.
Hard work is important and should be the foundation to our unique skills…but it’s our unique skills that make us valuable.
Hard Work isn’t Enough
Work ethic is like gasoline to a car; it keeps it going. A cars overall performance has very little dependency on the gas. Gas is needed in order for a car to perform at any level…but gas isn’t the distinguishing factor that differentiates the performance between a Beetle and a Bentley.
So we can say that gas plays a foundation-level role in a cars performance. On the other hand, it’s the engineering sophistication that really separates the average vehicle from a high performance one. And what do we care most about? PERFORMANCE…it’s all about the results (horse power, speed, safety, capacity, etc).
Finally, imagine gasoline being hard work, and unique ability/skills (talents, gifts, etc.) being the engineering masterpiece.
This breakdown shares a lot about the dynamic of hard work and the relationship it has to our intangible and learned qualities. It’s all about value. Everybody has gas…albeit some have higher thresholds to work harder than others (bigger tanks to hold more gas)…but not everyone has the same skill sets (top speed, efficiency, size, etc.). As an economy and world culture, we’re drawn to the performance because it’s what distinguishes one level from the next.
Results Drive Opportunities
Why this is important…
On a job resume, we designate about 75% of it to showcasing our work experience and highlighting the results we’ve accumulated along the way. We’ve been taught this, because employers have asked for it. Clients want referrals, testimonials and proofs of concept before they do business with you. They could care less about how hard you work…they want to know if you can “make it happen”. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t want a slug–but the focus is on performance outcomes…not so much the style of performance.
I’ve thought a lot about my unique qualities lately (we all have them). I’ve been very interested in understanding what has been my limiting behavior and thoughts, and what factors have allowed me to soar. This assessment has reminded me of all the different companies that I’ve worked for over the years and the many mid-year and year-end reviews that have come with the territory. Most of my reviews have been positive, sometimes even rewarding. And NEVER, not once did hard work come up. Even when I was in leadership roles, never did I reward a person for working hard…it was always about the ability to create a positive impact.
Working hard can help stimulate positive impact…but it’s only one ingredient. Banking everything on the idea of working hard is like buying a book but not reading it…it has no value.
We hate to see people waste away out of laziness. But I’ve come to learn that people can just as quickly waste away from working hard without focus. We admire the people that seem to get things done with an effortless essence…these are the people that work smarter rather than harder.
In the jungle (the corporate world), failing to understand the importance of the working smarter dynamic can become a detriment to success. People are working more hours than ever, taking on more projects, carrying more responsibility all by way of a lean workforce. Hard workers get worked harder and get respected less. They become the go to people for petty tasks that require very little brain power. You can smell their value depreciate as you can smell smoke after putting out a camp fire.
Smart workers, on the other hand, somehow work less, get more done and tend to be on the smiling side of new opportunities. It’s not that smart workers don’t work hard…they do. But they carry an incredible focus and willingness to learn new ways of maximizing their ability to perform well.
How many times have you worked your butt off but didn’t produce what you set out to produce? It’s for this reason that hard work isn’t worthy of much more than a friendly pat on the back…from yourself. Yes it’s important, but in a results driven economy, what gets the recognition to produce opportunities is results.
Hard Work Doesn’t Equal Results
Hard work doesn’t equal great results. Hard work doesn’t equal average results. Hard work doesn’t equal poor results. Hard work simply defines the energy and effort that goes towards accomplishing something.
Scenario: Three Artists
One has an exceptional work ethic to go along with great artistic abilities. The second artist is even more artistically talented, but lacks the ability to hustle. And the third artist has very little artistic skill, but all the work ethic in the world.
If this scenario were a real one, I think the first artist would be the most successful because of the embodiment of the full relationship: the gas and the engine sophistication. The second artist would go unseen and the third artist would only be respected for their willingness and ambition.
Imagine this…your employer or client runs a great business, but they refuse to pay you. When it’s all said and done, we can really care less about how great a business is ran…we want to be paid for our service. Well, working hard to an employer or client is seen in the same light…it has very little significance if you’re not producing the results that are required or expected of you. Because the factor that matters the most in our results driven economy…is getting results.
LET’S DISCUSS! How do you rank the idea of hard work in relationship to establishing value in something? If you were to hire a mechanic would you be more inclined to hire the guy that says he works hard, or the guy who has a track record of getting cars fixed? Are you driven by results as our economy is, or do you believe that effort is enough? Can’t wait to hear your point of view!