“Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration.”– Thomas Edison
You can use rituals and routines to work hard and stand out from the crowd. If you don’t know how to work hard, you can quickly learn the mindset and some proven practices to work hard and get results.
There is a lot of truth in “work smarter, not harder.” There is also truth in “work hard, play hard.” While balance is important, so is the ability to “go all out” or be “all in,” or really push yourself. If you want to take you, your life, or what you do to the next level, that’s what it takes.
Working hard is an ability that many of the most successful people share in common. Whether you look at Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, John Wooden, Tony Robbins, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Bruce Lee, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki … they all learned how to work hard.
I’ve learned to work hard from an early age. I’ve learned the discipline of getting things done. I’ve learned that “where there is a will, there is a way.” I’ve also learned the power of techniques to get rapid results and amplify my impact. I’ve learned the power of clarity to create focus. I’ve learned the power of passion to make things happen despite the odds. I’ve learned the power of growth and the importance of continuous learning.
The thing that stands out for me across all of this is how success really is a numbers game, a skills game, and especially an effort game. Even the ability to work hard is a skill. Some people luck into it out of desperation (“necessity is the mother of invention”). Others design for it. They find their passion. They find their purpose. They play at their work, and they follow their growth. That’s the smart part.
In the book, Making Ideas Happen, Scott Belsky writes about “rituals for perspiration” and how to work hard. More importantly, he shares the reason and mindset behind “why” work hard.
One way to win over the competition is to simply out-work them. Scott writes:
“Roy Spence, chairman of GSD&M Idea City — the powerful ad agency behind brands such as Southwest Airlines, Wal-Mart, Krispy Kreme, and the famous ‘Don’t Mess with Texas’ campaign — was once asked by Fast Company magazine how he keeps up the pace amidst serious competitors vying for his firm’s accounts. ‘The one thing that will out-trump everything is just to out-work the bastards,’ he proclaimed. ‘You’ve got to out-work them, out-think them, and out-passion them. But what a thrill.’”
Perspiration is the Best Form of Differentiation
The productive artist rises to the top, simply by acting on inspiration and executing ideas. Too many creative people fall pray to resistance or let their ideas die a slow death of inaction. Scott writes:
“Perspiration is the best form of differentiation, especially in the creative world. Work ethic alone can single-handedly give your ideas the boost that makes all the difference. Unfortunately, perspiration is not glamorous. Endless late nights, multiple redrafts, and countless meetings consume the majority of your time — all with the intention of breathing life into your projects. Passion for your work will also play an important role. Passion yields tolerance — tolerance for all of the frustration and hardship that come your way as you seek to make your ideas happen.”
Structure Your Time to Bring Out Your Best
One of the best ways to bring out your best is to design your time. Structure your time so you can execute your ideas and think deeply on your thoughts. Scott writes:
“In order to channel your ability to focus — and perspire — for extended periods of time, you will likely need to develop a consistent work schedule. Structuring time spent executing ideas is a best practice of admired creative leaders across industries. It is the only way to keep up with the continuous stream of Action Steps and allocate sufficient time for deep thought.”
Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves, lean in, and work hard. In many cases, working hard comes with the territory. The key is to make it meaningful, connect it to your passion, and find your growth in a way that lights your fire. That’s the part that’s up to you. And that’s your power.