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