High achievers constantly talk about the importance of hard work. But hard work is hard to define. Because what is hard for one person is easy for another. Which means that we define hard work individually, relevant to our capacity for struggle, and tolerance for strain. Still, it is useful to have a universal way to think about hard work. Even if you only plan to think about it in a small corner of the universe.
Well, Well, Maxwell
I turn to pastor, author and leader of leadership, John C. Maxwell for his insight into hard work. This is what my man JCM has to say on the subject:
Hard work is the accumulation of easy things you didn’t do when you should have.
– John C Maxwell
I like Maxwell’s definition. But I have modified it for my own purposes. I say:
Hard work is the easy work you didn’t do when you had more time.
Time is not on your side.
The critical element that makes hard work hard is time constraint. Which means that hard work has to do with the density of work. Or written pseudo-mathematically:
Difficulty of Work = Amount of Work To Be Done, divided by Time To Do It.
Which means that if you start the work earlier, and spread it over a longer period of time, it really isn’t that hard. You feel the burden of work when you have to exert a high level of effort over a short amount of time.
To make any type of work easier, start earlier. Start working on that next big project now. Start studying earlier for the exam. Clean a little every day and it won’t feel like a colossal undertaking.
One of the things I have been pleasantly surprised by since launching my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, is the number of times that my work was made easier because I unknowingly did the work ahead of time. In fact, I spent the last several decades doing the hard work of entrepreneurship, well before I decided to become an entrepreneur. I did this by developing relationships, building trust, demonstrating real interest, and connecting dots.
Be proactive. Spend as much time on the important tasks as possible before they become urgent. The easiest way to build an ark is under blue skies. Because, eventually it will rain. And when it does, you’ll be happy you gave yourself a head start. Just ask Noah.