Effort is grossly underrated

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on December 12, 2016 · 3 comments

I couldn’t possibly count how many times entrepreneurs that want my advice proceed to tell me that they can’t share their actual idea because they want to keep it a secret. Why? They think that the idea is worth a ton. Bullshit! I have a ton of great ideas too – teach every inner city kid to be an entrepreneur, utilize the energy of idle chit-chat at your local Starbucks to power the grid, and to leverage every cancelled doctors appointment to optimally support every person in need. Want to invest? Of course not, because ideas not backed by execution is worthless.

Execution involves a lot of elements: intellect, focus, perseverance, and pure effort. Gary Vaynerchuk, a wildly successful man in everything from retail wine sales to sports representation, has this to say: “effort is grossly underrated.”

work_smarterandharder_1There is a common phrase of “work smarter, not harder.” I get the appeal of that. Effort without clarity, efficiency, and effectiveness, has severe limits. Working smart is essential. But does that mean working hard has no value? No, effort is grossly underrated.

I believe we should aspire to work smarter and harder. Neither is sufficient, both are required. Intelligence and creativity are essential elements to working smart. Every individual must make contributions to their partners and organizations with good ideas that move things along. When there is a lack of working smart, resources are wasted by working on the wrong things, in the wrong ways, toward the wrong ends. But smart is not enough, because without hard work no ideas will come to fruition. Ideas are worthless, only providing value when they are realized through the efforts and accomplishments of those who bring them to life. In any pursuit, towards any end, working hard and smart is essential.

 
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1 John Hunter December 13, 2016 at 7:57 am

My father used to convince himself working smarter should be the focus and then he would return from Japan and say yes working smarter is important but they also just work harder. Then he would revert to moving almost all the focus to working smarter, then return of Japan and repeat. It took maybe 3 trips to have it sink into his consciousness that it really was both.

I think part of the issue is that often we work long hours but really there is so much waste that we could work smarter and reduce the hours IF the systems are improved. The problem is we often don’t improve the processes and systems nearly enough before we want to reduce the hours.

I am slower than my father to accept the necessity of hard work 🙂 I still think we could reduce the hours of work if we worked smarter AND the processes were improved to eliminate wasted time AND we worked hard for the more limited hours. To some extent some agile software development efforts have shown this by change the system of work and including as part of that a commitment to long term sustainable pace of work (no overwork).

I think if people define work as hard as a large number of hours then that can be reduced. If they define hard as putting forth their best efforts (in a smart and effective way) continually for the hours they put in then you can’t see reducing hard work as a goal. The hard work of doing the challenging things when they are important cannot be abdicated. If anything that is one of the most important methods to reduce the hours of work needed – doing the things that often people avoid because it will be difficult, upset people, make people uncomfortable, upset the way things are done…

2 Jamie Flinchbaugh December 13, 2016 at 8:15 am

John, as always, useful comments. Hard work isn’t only measured by the number of hours. I used to test myself to see how little sleep I could survive on. Now I try to be well rested (…try…). With that said, I think there are plenty of cases where the hours are also what’s needed. There have been many situations where visiting a client where I and the person I’m working with seem to be the last two out the door. If it were 9 PM, that might seem fine, but sometimes its 4:30 or 5..everyone’s gone?

So…pointless hours don’t count, and staying up until 2 in the morning just to say you did doesn’t count…but sometimes the extra hour (or three) is what’s called for.

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