In Praise of Hard Work

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It wasn’t long ago that factory work, coal mines, lumber and fishing employed more than half our workers.

That was Hard Work.

Nobody was sneaking a peek at Instagram updates, checking their Inbox, or trying to increase their Luminosity score. They came to work to do work.

It was honourable.

And you also got to see the results of your labour.

I like that.

Hard work on the swing shift

But, we aren’t in the 1950’s—we don’t put on overalls and punch in on the factory floor. Our day is full of clicking keyboards, moving paper, making lists, and busy-work.

Heck, a whole week can fly by and you don’t feel like you made progress!

Been there.

Sure, you’re busy. I could snap a camera on your desk, record you for a day and I’d see lots of busy-ness. Click, click, click…busy.

Yeah, but what about Hard Work?

I define Hard Work (in our modern, no-lunch box, society) as actions you might otherwise avoid that make the most progress towards your goals. That’s the hard work that pays off.

Let’s rewind that video and put a time stamp every time you tell me you’re doing Hard Work. I wonder what percent of your day we’d find you doing Hard Work?

I’ve written posts about habits, willpower and goals – those are all critical components of Hard Work and getting results. Goals point me in the right direction, willpower gets me out of bed and habits grease the productivity wheel.

They’re the trifecta of productivity.

And then there’s Hard Work. That’s making a decision to get behind the wheel of resistance and push through.

This is Hard Work for me:

  • interrupting someone’s day and asking for something
  • writing an email to say ‘no’ to someone’s offer
  • giving feedback when I know better is possible
  • sticking to my practice of hardest 50 in the first 90
  • limiting my list for the day to fewer than 12 items
  • leaving my office earlier than planned
  • resisting all temptations to stay up late

That’s all Hard Work. And Hard Work pays off. That’s what moves the needle—if I want more money, more freedom, more time to choose what I want to do I need to do the Hard Work.

factory workers

“I learned the value of hard work by working hard.” Margaret Mead. Click To Tweet

And here’s the funny thing:

My anticipation that work will be hard is roughly 115,367 times (not based on scientific research) more than reality. “As powerful as is our soul’s call,” writes author Steven Pressfield “…We’re not alone if we’ve been mowed down by Resistance; millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us.”

Here’s that list of Hard Work again with my Reality tacked alongside. See if this rings true for you:

What hard work looks like

I don’t know what Hard Work is for you, but I do know you have some you’re avoiding. So do I—we all do.

Let’s get some Hard Work done today.

Please do 2 things right now:

  1. tell me in the comments what Hard Work you need to get to.
  2. share this post by clicking on the social share button on the left (bottom on mobile). When you share the love you motivate me to keep writing. Thank you.


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

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