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Seth Godin on ‘hard work’, this Labor Day

A personally poignant piece by Seth Goding on the meaning of ‘hard work’ in today’s economy.

He writes:

“…Richard Branson doesn’t work more hours than you do. Neither does Steve Ballmer or Carly Fiorina. Robyn Waters, the woman who revolutionized what Target sells — and helped the company trounce Kmart — probably worked fewer hours than you do in an average week.

None of the people who are racking up amazing success stories and creating cool stuff are doing it just by working more hours than you are. And I hate to say it, but they’re not smarter than you either. They’re succeeding by doing hard work.

As the economy plods along, many of us are choosing to take the easy way out. We’re going to work for the Man, letting him do the hard work while we work the long hours. We’re going back to the future, to a definition of work that embraces the grindstone.

Some people (a precious few, so far) are realizing that this temporary recession is the best opportunity that they’ve ever had. They’re working harder than ever — mentally — and taking all sorts of emotional and personal risks that are bound to pay off.

Hard work is about risk. It begins when you deal with the things that you’d rather not deal with: fear of failure, fear of standing out, fear of rejection. Hard work is about training yourself to leap over this barrier, tunnel under that barrier, drive through the other barrier. And, after you’ve done that, to do it again the next day.

The big insight: The riskier your (smart) coworker’s hard work appears to be, the safer it really is. It’s the people having difficult conversations, inventing remarkable products, and pushing the envelope (and, perhaps, still going home at 5 PM) who are building a recession-proof future for themselves.”

Seth Godin is working today, Labor Day.

So am I.

Published in Links Thoughts and Rants

One Comment

  1. I don’t know Richard Branson or Carly Fiorina, but I worked at Microsoft and know about Steve Ballmer. I think that Steve Ballmer works more hours and is smarter than 99.9% of the population.

    This was many years ago, but he mentioned that for the first decade of Microsoft, he almost never went on vacation. I’m sure he averages working 90 hours+ per week.

    You will also find him to be an incredibly smart person.

    While the blog post has a point about not “working for the man”, the level of success that Steve Ballmer and the others have had do have a correlation to both their IQ and hours worked.

    People should not shy away from hard work as they build success.

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