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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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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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