Entrepreneurs worry about whether they work hard enough to deserve success. Especially new entrepreneurs who believe that unless they clock long hours every single day, their business is going to fail, and they will be personally responsible for the failure because they `slacked’ on the job.
That’s mainstream advice too, when starting a new venture. Work hard or fail. Even Gary Vaynerchuk, thought leader, media giant and inspirational speaker, talks at length about laboring 18×7 at your business.
“You need to work harder,” he says. “And faster…I’m exhausted every day, but I’m making all sorts of things happen in my 18 hours. Not only am I working 18 hours, I’m working fast as hell in these 18 hours…There is not a second that’s down for me. Some people say they work ten hours a day, but then when I audit them, there’s 15 minutes here and there where they watched a YouTube video. We fight for minutes on my team. Even seconds.”
Now, I believe Gary Vaynerchuk is special in that way. He works all the time, and that’s just how he is. But if a 15-minute YouTube break to just relax and recharge during a busy workday is unjustifiable, then most humans would burn out within a few weeks or a few months – simply from all that `efforting’.
Like a recipe for cake, the ingredients we put into our day have to be carefully measured and balanced, to achieve a beautiful red velvet or a bundt that is soft, moist and sweet. Add 10 extra eggs to the recipe because some life guru says you must love eggs with the passion of a mother hen, and all you’ll end up baking is quiche. Now, some people like Vaynerchuk may be quite happy to bake and eat quiche for every meal, every single day.
Me? I will gladly eat an omelette or fried eggs for breakfast, but when I want cake, I want cake.
A balanced diet of multiple foods keep our bodies and minds healthy and in good working order. Living on merely eggs would leave us deficient on some essential nutrients, reduce intake of fiber and increase constipation, fatigue and bad breath, and that simply wouldn’t do.
So I take a radically different view on the subject of hard work. I believe hard work is a “mindset” – not an Excel sheet of how many hours you spend at your desk every day. And with that mindset comes awareness, focus and a readiness to learn and grow with joy and enthusiasm that is only born when the impulse of creation comes from the heart space.
Even though I am the Founder of a growing advertising agency, you will rarely find me sitting at a desk, plugging away for endless hours every day of the week. But that doesn’t mean I am not working hard. When I wake up early every morning to do my a.m. routine of Bible reading, journaling and working out, my mind is already hard at work. When I am on my daily walks in the afternoon, I am feeling exercised and energized from breathing all that fresh air, and I am blogging into my phone. When my family goes to bed at night, I am usually catching up on the reading and research I do to keep abreast with changing trends in my industry.
If you see hard work as a mindset, then there is no stress and pressure to perform. Instead, there is joy in the performing that makes you want to do better and be better. There is freedom to put a problem in a petri dish and study it dispassionately to find the best solution. There is the precious opportunity to grow multi-dimensionally instead of just running as fast as you can because an imaginary timekeeper has his finger on the stopwatch button.
As a serial entrepreneur, I have done my fair share of hard work the traditional way. I have worked 100-hour weeks during my early career in construction and real estate, and I did not even date during that time because I believed if I didn’t work hard enough, I would miss out.
In hindsight, I realize that by putting all my eggs in the `work’ basket, my growth as a human being had become lopsided. People around me were unhappy. I was tired, depleted of fresh ideas and inspiration was in short supply.
Now? I live so much more harmoniously with a hard-work mindset instead. I look at my fingers whenever I need to prioritize the important things in my life (read my article about the hand-life connection by clicking here.)
And I eat cake.