Workin’ 9 to 5

It may be a way to make a living but it’s not a way to make a career.  Or a life for that matter.

Quote of the Day on Hard Work

Hard Work WinsI shared the following on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as my thought of the day:

“Hard work spotlights the character of people;
some turn up their sleeves,
some turn up their noses,
and some don’t turn up at all.”
-Sam Ewing

It’s important to note that it doesn’t speak to building character as much as revealing character.  It’s similar to how many say that a crisis builds character; but it doesn’t, it simply reveals it.  Hard work reveals character by the way in which we react to it.  When we have been trained that hard work is a part of life and a vital part of getting things done, we are apt to dive in and lend a hand when the time comes.  Even more to the point, if we jump in without first being asked, it speaks to our character even more.

Hard Work is Beneath Me

As the quote also points out, some refuse to be a part of it.  Hard work is beneath their station or status.  This is especially prevalent in the workplace.  The manager who deals out the work assignments, closes the door to their office, and focuses simply on the end result.  Now, I will point out that thinking is very hard work as well.  When you are looking ahead, anticipating problems, mulling solutions, brainstorming ways to move your company and your employees forward, searching for new, innovative ways to add value to those you work with; all of that requires, even demands, a managers attention.  It is a hard working manager or leader who spends time in the hard work on thinking.  The problem is that in most cases management generally doesn’t do much of that either.

Those who think that hard work is below their station or their position are not really in touch with the reality of their business.  It also misses that most of the most successful businessman and entrepreneurs spend their time in both mental and physical hard work.

  • Sam Walton was well-known for going into the trenches, visiting stores, working with and talking with employees on all levels; stock persons, truck drivers, greeters, and all.  He spent time paying attention to the details, thinking of  new ways to offer more and create a better experience for his customers.
  • Mark Cuban was a dot com sensation, but few know that in his first startup he worked long hours and didn’t take a vacation for seven years.
  • Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico, worked overnight shifts as a receptionist while completing a degree at Yale.  She often puts in 13 hour days in the office, takes mail home to read (not recommended), and, by the way, raises two daughters.
  • William “Biff’ Comte, CEO of Accentcare, habitually “job shadows” employees and asks questions about their work to understand what he can do to best serve their needs and provide the best experience for employees and patients.  In addition to all those other CEO duties.

Hard work is essential to our success.  Sometimes that is get the hands dirty work and sometimes it is put the mind in high gear work.  In fact, the most successful spend more time in the mind in high gear part than the other.

It’s Hard Work Time, Where’s Fitz?

Then, of course, there are those who simply don’t even bother to show up when it’s time for hard work.  Having in the past worked for a few government organizations and enterprise-level companies, you will find quite a few there.  They seem to be everywhere but at their desk; not because they are engaged in work but because they are engaged in anything BUT their work.  Curiously enough, they are typically the most negative people you will work with.

Avoid them.  They will just suck the life right out of you!

The Hard Work of Thinking

So, as we discussed, our most productive hard work and the work that will be help us fulfill more of our potential is the time we spend in thought.  Here’s a few ways to be more effective at thinking:

  1. Block out time on your calendar for “Thinking Time”.  Guard it ruthlessly.
  2. Have an agenda for what you plan to think about.  Otherwise, you will just have random thoughts
  3. Always be positive.  Think positive.  Look for positive lessons and results from your experiences.
  4. Think in gradual time frames.  Think a week ahead, a month ahead, a year ahead, five years ahead.
  5. Focus on what you are doing right and should continue to do and what you need to change

Your hard work on thinking your way through things brings clarity, focus, and purpose.