“No one cares…work harder!”
I’ve heard this quote numerous times. It is great. It rolls up two important concepts that I’ve lived by most of my life.
1) Work hard at moving your life in the direction you want it to go.
2) There are very few people who give two craps about you. Conversely most people wouldn’t mind if you met hard times. Sad, but unfortunately true.
One of my favorite books is Animal Farm by George Orwell. In the book, he describes different types of animals and how they represent different types of humans. Different animals have different characteristics that closely match them to a particular group of humans. For example, pigs get described as leaders/politicians. Get it?! I know…real high-level stuff here!?! I found I identify most closely with the mule. The mule goes out into the field and works hard every day and disregards the activities of the other animals. The mule disregards what the politician says and he figures if he works hard enough he’ll be fine. This is very close to my life mentality. It has been a while since I read the book, but I think the mule eventually dies from working hard and it’s taken to the glue factory. YIKES! Perhaps this is not the best story to help make my point.
I have lived my life under the context that if I work very hard everything will work out and be fine. This has served me very well throughout my life. Whatever I have set out to do, I have set out to work hard while doing it. Good things have almost always come from that approach.
When I was in college I worked a few jobs mainly just to have pocket money. I didn’t use the money wisely and wasted it. Regardless, I was working many hours a week while also in school. I probably focused way too much on working to make money and way too little on school. Somewhere along the way, I decided I needed to get an internship (to get some experience in my chosen field of finance). I went to the business school and they looked at me like I had a second head. There was no internship program available for my major. Great school! NOT! I was convinced I needed to have some actual work experience in my field so I started looking around and trying to meet people. You can imagine this would be hard. Who wants to hire someone new with no experience? I was waiting tables at a restaurant during this time. And in the category of luck meets hard work I met several people who were in business and willing to give a young person an opportunity. I talked more with a few of them. I eventually tracked one down at his house and pestered him until he let me come work for him in an unpaid internship. Unpaid?!? Why would I go work for free? I did it because the experience was worth more than the money. I also did it because there was no way he would have paid me. But if I wanted to come to hang out all day for free…sounds great! I needed experience and he needed menial tasks done. It was a match made in heaven. I went to work I learned things I would’ve never learned in school. I didn’t get paid a dime to do it. That internship turned into my first job out of college which was a startup (in my chosen field). For my efforts, I did receive some founder’s stock in the company. We later sold that company for a substantial sum of money. Luck meets hard work!
Over the years, through relationships at that first job, I have worked at many other jobs without ever applying for a job. The people I came in contact with who saw me work hard throughout my career remembered that and when they had an opportunity they reached out. This has happened numerous times and has advanced my career in ways I couldn’t imagine at the time. NOTE: On the flip side, people who worked with me when I had a bad attitude and was not a hard-working, team player also remember that. Weird, how I don’t hear from them anymore?!? Actually, not weird at all.
For most of the years, I worked at that first job I was just a mule doing whatever work I was assigned to do. If I did my job well, made my boss look good, was a team player, with a good attitude who was working diligently to help our company be more successful I was a good mule. So even if I just felt like a mule it didn’t matter–luck met hard work.
These days working harder than the normal person is relatively easy. Most people go to their job and do everything they can to not work hard. The people that do the opposite are team players and try to make the organization more effective through their work. These people wind up shining. It is frankly not very hard at all to outperform the vast majority of workers these days. Anyone growing up in my family should easily be able to work circles around a normal coworker because hopefully, you have learned the value of working hard. Go to work, work hard at what you are assigned to do, help your team succeed at what you or setting out to do, make your boss look good…poof! Good things will come your way. I can almost promise you that.
There have been many times throughout my career where I would work my regular full-time job and then also continue to work on a side project. The side projects rarely panned out financially but the experience I gained from working on them was invaluable. I often learned skills doing these ‘jobs’ that I could apply in my normal day-to-day career. It has helped me progress in my normal career. I called these ‘paying tuition in the school of life.’ These were usually little companies that I was planning to start. Of course, I intended to take over the world and become wildly successful. It never worked that way, however.
- Budget For Life was going to be a financial planning engine that would change the world. Epic fail!
- Fantasy Racing Central would take everything we learned with Budget For Life and convert it to people playing on the Internet. We would make millions because people love racing and wasting their time on the internet. Epic fail!
- Herder Health Services was going to take a problem we had our company, fix it, and then sell the solution to all our competitors. Everyone wins, I get rich. Epic fail!
- My Money Trainer was going to take my passion for financial planning box it up and make it available to everyone in a simple low-cost solution. Everyone on earth would need the service and I would provide it to them. Epic fail!
Each one of these failed to achieve what I set out to deliver…completely. Did I waste some time and energy? Absolutely! But did I learn skills that I did not already have? Absolutely. Have I been able to use those skills in my current career? Absolutely, yes!
But Dad, work is for losers! There are so many better uses of my time than working for the man. All work and no play will make Joey a very dull boy.
Here is another take…
Your work is your reason for existence!
That is quite a statement. Don’t @ me! Philosophically is work needed? I think yes. I believe every human is given talents of some sort. I believe every human should use those talents to their highest ability at all times. If you are not using your talents to their fullest then you are wasting your talents, thus wasting your life potential.
How can you use those talents? Through your work. Here I’m using a broader definition of work. Of course, if I’m a fry cook at McDonald’s as my work that is likely not using all of my talents (or maybe it is).
I would make the argument, however, that your work matters even if you are only a fry cook. Someone eats the product of your work. Someone who wants fries because they need them. That person may not be able to eat otherwise without you producing the fries. This has hit home with all the supply chain disruptions we are currently experiencing due to COVID. Lots of people in all kinds of jobs haven’t been showing up and the entire global supply chain has been impacted. We all rely on each other in ways we can’t truly comprehend on a day-to-day basis. Every job matters to someone, all the way up to much higher levels of work (like scientists curing diseases, doctors healing illnesses, ministers ministering, and the list goes on and on). So anytime you are doing work you should go about it with the mindset that what you are doing matters to someone/somewhere. It likely does, otherwise, some person or corporation would not be paying you to do the work. This I promise.
Regardless, I don’t necessarily have to go into a job and punch a clock to “work“. I might be able to use my talents charitably or not directly as an employee (maybe as an employer). Regardless, I must employ my talents in some capacity, i.e. work, otherwise, I am wasting my talents. Therefore, that is why I say your work is your reason for existence. Even if you are wealthy and have more money than you will ever need I still believe you will need ‘work’ of some sort in your life to find ultimate fulfillment. I believe this because if you are not utilizing your talents you are withering on the vine.
This is all very conceptual and these are things I have learned over the years as I approach 50 years on this earth and have worked for the man for over 30 years. I, obviously, did not think this when I was valet parking cars in college or pushing paper at my first job out of college. I probably didn’t even realize it when I was contemplating ‘what am I doing with my life’ 15 years into my career. But now that I do know I can tell you that all the delayed gratification and having the mentality to work hard throughout my career has paid off and will continue to pay off. Guaranteed. I get up and go to work each day and know that I’m using my talents to help my company succeed (which allows our service to aid people’s lives).
Work hard! If you are working hard…work harder! Also…no one cares about you as much as you do. No one cares how hard you are working. Ultimately only you care how hard you are working and what you are dedicating your working time too. So, just know that no one cares…work harder. When you are having a tough time and not feeling up to the task…work harder. When you think you were wasting your life and not being fulfilled in some way you believe you need to be fulfilled…work harder. When you look around and others are not working as hard as you…work harder. When it feels like you might be missing out on something because you were working…work harder.
In the grand scheme of things, balance is very important. You have to find a balance between how hard you are going to work and downtime. I have plenty of things in my life where I have downtime. These things directly contribute to my ability to be effective when I’m in my work time. These things are critical. If I did not have them it would not make the work time worthwhile.
Ultimately the thing that progresses my life along in the direction that I want it to go is the work that I do. If you are not hyper-focused on working on something that you deem important and working at it extremely hard, then I believe you are leaving a lot on the table. You should determine what it is in your life that is your talent. You should determine how you can use that talent to further humanity. And then you should spend your waking moments working in that capacity. Every day will not be a dream, and most will be very hard. But throughout one’s life and career, you should be able to look back on the work you’ve done and be satisfied.
That is my hope for you guys. I hope that you will find how to employ the talent that you have in a capacity that makes you happy throughout your life.
Love you so much,