I wrote about a good work ethic in the series “Leadership Essentials” and that post fits this subject of this current series. I am reposting that original article with some modifications below.
I was blessed with wonderful grandparents. They were ranchers in Montana and just had a way of saying things. My grandmother would use the term “not very work brittle” for someone who was lazy. Often referring to one of the ranchhands that worked for them.
My grandfather had me out working with him whenever we would visit.
I worked on neighbors’ farms in my early to mid teens and learned the value of hard work. I then worked construction for a few years before I got married. To this day, I enjoy building things and working with horses.
The lessons gained and attitude adopted in those early experiences are invaluable. Hard work pays off, Laziness does not.
This holds true in every aspect of life and career. The one sitting at a desk, may not break a sweat in the performance of their duties, but that makes hard work no less valuable or necessary.
I have met too many people who look for the easy ways out, the shortcuts to do as little as possible. I am all for doing things smarter and more efficiently, but only for the sake of being able to do more and be more effective. If the goal is to just skate by on the easy path, that’s just plain lazy.
Laziness will never get the job done. Laziness will only hinder.
We all have the desire to be lazy from time to time. Not just rest and recharge, but actually lazy. The want to not do something we know we should. The urge to skip out and shirk responsibility. And, honestly, there are many times we could just snap our fingers and be successful or finished with a project or task. Overcoming this is important to our true success as a leader and as a person. Managing our own laziness and pushing through to work hard pays off.
It is often said, that if you want something done, give it to the busiest person in the organization. Why is that? Because they are the ones who know how to get things done. The ones who are least busy and rarely if ever seem to be doing anything are likely not the ones to give an important project to.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are two of the best quarterbacks of all time. The biggest reason is how hard they work in preparation for each game. Their work ethic is legendary. As such, they have risen to the pinnacle of an extremely competitive and cut throat business. Their coaches remark repeatedly that they show up more prepared than anyone else and that they push everyone around them to be better, including their coaches and competition. They set the bar high with their commitment to working hard. That is leadership.
If you want to accomplish anything worthwhile, it will take hard work. There are no shortcuts to purpose. There is no easy path to effectiveness. Significance does not just happen.
If you work hard, you will achieve something meaningful. You can be proud of a job well-done.
One of the keys to hard work comes from an old quote by Mark Twain, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
While, I’m not suggesting to actually eat a live frog and I’m quite sure neither was Mark Twain, the principle is effective. Do the hard work first. Take on the thing you least want to do right away and the rest will be much easier. The “secret” to effectiveness and success is do what others don’t and often won’t. Work hard. Eat the frog first.
Hard work does not mean no life and forsaking relationships. In fact, just the opposite. These take work and intentionality as well. A good work ethic means to “plow while it is day” as the Bible puts it. Meaning there is time for work and time for rest. People are always most important, especially those closest to us. We must consistently work hard to accomplish anything whether vocational, emotional, or relational.
There are so many good resources out there telling us how to do things better, how to leverage people and influence, how to use systems and processes, and on and on. These are all great and valuable. At the end of the day, nothing matches good old-fashioned hard work. Putting your hand to the plow and forging ahead, whether the plow is a computer, a pencil, a phone, a musical instrument, a hammer, a wrench, or anything else.
Working hard at what is before us will pay off.