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This Is Why Hard Work Is Not Essential to Achieving Success

This Is Why Hard Work Is Not Essential to Achieving Success

Everyone thinks that hard work is the secret to success. But is it? What does it mean to work hard anyway? People really struggle with ways to define it. Plus there seem to be more compelling factors at play. And if you neglect those fundamental factors that contribute to your overall success, you’ll end up sabotaging it. Sometimes we forget the things that shape our journey the most are largely overlooked.

Consider the following factors, which demonstrate why hard work alone is not essential to success:

1. Because working smarter is more useful than working harder

Working hard may be a waste of time, especially if you’re not getting results. In fact, real estate mogul, Chris Leavitt, says that working smarter is a proactive strategy that sets pros apart. Very early in his career, he realized that time is a non-negotiable, non-renewable resource and people waste a lot of it. By working smarter, he discovered creative ways to achieve greater results without wasting time, compromising his integrity, or sacrificing the bottom-line.

“Work smarter; not harder.”
Chris Leavitt, Star of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing Miami”

2. Because you need support

Cultivating strong relationships is vital. No man is an island to himself, even when he wants to be. Serial entrepreneur, Richard Branson, says that success in business is all about making connections. And he would know. He’s made a lot of great ones. Without the support of others who can help you to successfully pull projects forward, it can be very difficult to reach deadlines, relieve stress and expand your reach.

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“To be successful in business, you need to connect and collaborate and delegate.”
Richard Branson

3. Because you have to overcome fear

Fear can be a serious blockage to your success. How do you get around it? Learn to manage and overcome it. Real estate mogul and business expert, Barbara Corcoran, was not always the confident public speaker that she is today. When she was younger, she was terrified to speak publicly—she stuttered—and suffered extreme embarrassment. But she knew that the best way to overcome her fear was to confront it. She forced herself to accept numerous speaking engagements so that she could become better. And guess what? She did.

“Embrace your fears by confronting them.”
Barbara Corcoran

4. Because your appearance matters

“Despite the established acceptance of casual attire at many companies, there has never been a business casual dress code, dress-down days, or casual Friday option at Black Enterprise,” says Earl G. Graves, Sr., American entrepreneur, publisher, philanthropist, and founder of the Black Enterprise Magazine. While people don’t like to admit it, your physical appearance is a reflection of your commitment to excellence and definitely influences the way that others perceive you and thus impacts your trajectory for success.

“Your appearance is still the first and most impactful way that you communicate who you are and determine how you are treated.”
Earl G. Graves, Sr.

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5. Because you need a compelling vision

American life coach and self-help author, Tony Robbins, famously teaches that creating and executing the ultimate vision for your life matters: These concepts are critical to how you navigate the path to success. And he would know. Despite humble beginnings and from a young age, Tony was very clear on how he wanted to live his life and created a compelling vision for how he could achieve it. It got him up early and kept him up late. His vision has translated into enormous career and financial success, as Tony has helped individuals all around the world to achieve peak performance and realize their wildest dreams. He was also named in Forbes magazine’s 2007 “Celebrity 100” list, among other enviable accolades.

“To create an extraordinary quality of life, you must create a vision that’s not only obtainable, but that is sustainable.”
Anthony Robbins

6. Because happiness matters

Without happiness, it’s pretty difficult to develop the desire to achieve anything. Success, then, rests on your capacity to embrace happiness on a visceral level. Jim Rohn, considered America’s foremost business philosopher, taught strategies for improving our lives based on the principles of gratitude and happiness. He drew on guiding principles from the reality of his own life, which inspired others to embrace his insight on actuating personal development. He will always be remembered for his larger than life contributions to the industry.

“Happiness and success in life are not the result of what we have, but rather of how we live. What we do with the things we have makes the biggest difference in the quality of life.”
Jim Rohn
1930-2009

7. Because you need to be consistent

Doing something once or twice—even when putting forth enormous effort—is usually not enough to yield results. But when you’re consistent, more often than not, you’ll see the fruits of your labor come to fruition. The Rock has mastered this principle. He knows that eating one healthy meal or doing one killer workout won’t lead to the physique of your dreams. No matter what your goals may be, being consistent is the key to achieving them. There’s simply no way around it.

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“Succccess isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

8. Because you have to ignore the cynics

It’s unfortunate, but the road to success is filled with cynics and cynicism. If you want to maintain focus and achieve a higher purpose, you cannot afford to be distracted by the muck and mire of other people’s belief systems. Most important is what you believe to be true for yourself. Barack Obama, the first Black President of the United States of America, demonstrated through winning two controversial elections that ignoring the cynics was quite a powerful vehicle for success. If he hadn’t, it would have been difficult to inspire the country to believe in his leadership and cast their beliefs at the ballot.

“Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom.”
President Barack Obama

9. Because failure is part of success

No matter how committed you are to achieving success, there will setbacks, roadblocks, and challenges of varying proportion. But failures, however they show up, are not indicators of your inability to achieve. They are, however, par for the course when achievement is on the horizon. Better to embrace and learn from them than be crushed by their inescapable existence. Author, economist, and Financial Times columnist, Tim Hartford, teaches that by acknowledging and confronting our failures, we get the chance to overcome our egos and create opportunities for learning and greater success. He’s lived by these principles and his success bears witness to the credibility of his journey.

“Few of our own failures are fatal.”
Tim Hartford

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10. Because success requires sacrifice

Everyone wants to achieve success, but few are willing to sacrifice what it takes to get it. American Olympian, Gabrielle Douglas, knows a lot about sacrifice. After all, she’s spent most of her life preparing for competitive gymnastics, a feat difficult for even the best of athletes. To be at her best, she needed to follow rigorous training regimens and an equally strict diet. She also spent a significant amount of time away from her family to train before participating in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Of course she’s had plenty of good days, but she’s also sacrificed a lot. Are you willing to sacrifice to get to the top?

“I had to face a lot coming through this journey, a lot of sacrifices, difficulties, challenges, and injuries.”
Gabrielle Douglas

While hard work may be the default measurement for achieving success, there are clearly more compelling factors at play. And they shouldn’t be overlooked. What other factors have you found relevant along the path to your success?

Featured photo credit: A team of construction workers working hard to recover the economy. via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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