The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary. A key factor to becoming successful at anything in life, whether personal or business related, is the quantity and quality of hard work that we invest in it. I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying “work smarter, not harder”. My experience has been that you have to do both. To get to the next level you need to work smarter and harder. Here are three things to keep in mind on your journey.
- Work hard and work smart
- Work hard and evolve
- Work hard and play hard
Work hard, work smart
Some people get lucky and come into some money or are handed an amazing opportunity without really working for it, but for most of us this is not the case. We need to work hard for our success. Working hard, however, is not always enough.
We’ve all met hardworking individuals who just can’t seem to make it despite putting in more hours than their peers. Although it sounds cliché, we need to also work smart. So what does this mean?
I like to use the analogy of a physical workout. Let’s say you’ve become inspired to get fit. Maybe you spoke with someone who was having success in this area, or perhaps you read a book and it opened your eyes to the opportunity in front of you. You and I both know that no matter what your goals and dreams are, nothing happens until you get off your butt and start working. So you get up early and head to the gym. The first few times you go you feel good about yourself. Although you can’t see progress yet, you feel good about making the effort. If you keep it up for a while you begin to see progress and it inspires you to work harder. Then a week goes by, two weeks, a month and progress slows to crawl. Instead of 45 minutes a day you increase your workout to an hour. Instead of four workouts a week you do five, but no matter how hard you work you can’t seem to get out of your plateau.
Have you ever hit a plateau in business, and struggled to get to the next level? Just working harder and putting in more hours doing the same things you have been doing may not be the answer. To get past our plateau we need to change things up, do something different, something you have never done before.
At the gym where I workout I’ve been attending an indoor cycling class a few nights a week for about three years. There are a few people in that class that have been participating in the 45 minute intense workout just as long, yet they seem to be in the same shape as they were when they started. Adding another spin class or two is not going to help them. What they need to do is replace one of their classes with an hour or so of weight training and perhaps add some stretching or yoga. This would be working smarter without working harder or spending more time, and may likely produce results faster.
In what areas in your business do you feel like you are just spinning your wheels? What can you do to change things up? What areas of your business are starving for attention, marketing, sales, finance, operations, leadership? Change is always scary but it is completely necessary for growth. Change your routines today. Pick up a book on leadership or business management and read a few pages before work everyday. Turn off the TV and read about someone who has made it in your field. You will be amazed at the new ideas and perspectives you get.
I wish I’d started reading and working smarter earlier on in my career because when I discovered my intense desire to learn and read my whole life changed. New ideas and inspirations flooded in and my career path changed forever. Our business model changed with it and improved! I began to obsess over finding better ways to do business and began to focus on what I was good at versus what everyone else was doing. Now changing, learning and growing has become a way of life for me and our business has quadrupled in size.
Work hard and evolve
When I began working I did all kinds of physical work, laying sod, climbing trees, plowing snow, mowing grass, and driving trucks and I have no doubt in my mind that I would be doing the same job today had I just kept on working hard. As I write this I am on a plane returning from a speaking engagement and I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, my role has certainly evolved!” It didn’t happen by magic. I had to work insanely hard and push myself out of my comfort zone over and over again in order to learn new skills. Today as CEO I still work insanely hard, but as a cheerleader for our brands and our culture. I am invited all over the country to speak about and share what I’ve learned over the years and to help inspire others to grow and develop on their journey.
We’ve all seen the pictures of a young Bill Gates sleeping under his desk after hours of coding while developing the first generation of his DOS operating system. Where would Microsoft be today if Bill Gates didn’t evolve from his role as a programmer? You can be sure he continued to work as hard as ever, he just focused on areas where he could have a greater impact on the growth of his business.
Work hard, play hard
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It can also make him irritable, unfocused and even unhealthy. If we want to be able to work and produce to our full potential, we need to give our bodies, hearts, minds and spirits a break. This is a skill we can develop just like any other skill in business. Sometimes budgeting time and money for an all-out vacation is what’s required. Other times we can incorporate play into our everyday work life. My friend Charlie Hoehn began a habit that he now calls a “recess”. A recess is a time during each business day dedicated to doing something fun. Instead of conducting every meeting in the typical boardroom setting, Charlie will invite his colleague to the local park for a game of catch while discussing the topic at hand.
We have a driving range a few minutes from our office where we will often (but not often enough) conduct our meetings while hitting a bucket of golf balls. This helps us incorporate a little fun into our day without affecting productivity.
Another way to add a bit of playfulness into your day is to create a fun office environment. We’ve all seen the now famous Google offices complete with slides, ping pong tables, game pods and beanbag chairs, what can you do at your place of work to incorporate some play into your day?
Your business will be better because of it.
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“Peter van Stralen knows that when you care about your team, they will pass along that caring attitude to your customers, and success will follow. If you haven’t yet created a culture of care in your organization, read C.A.R.E. Leadership and make it happen.”
— Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and Trust Works