The myth of “Working Hard” vs. “Working Smart”

You know the results are obtained by working hard … and if it was better to work smart?

Mike Rowe, the TV host of the popular television series Dirty Jobs aired on the Discovery Channel, has recently highlighted the dichotomy of the way we live work today – on one side there is the vision romantic old style, with the ideal of “hard work,” the other the urban vision of “work smart,” smart, optimized, flag of army of workers equipped with Blackberry.

(Literally SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound)

While Rowe’s comments were aimed at illustrating the contrast between our perceptions of “work hard vs. Smart work,” I could not help but think about the amount of articles I read in favor of smart work against work hard. All of them start questioning the idea that it is necessary to invest long hours of work in the road that will lead us to success, to continue emphasizing methods on how to reduce the number of hours of work and increase productivity, reviewing the priorities and thus recovering part of their time.

The problem of the dichotomy hard work vs. smart work is that too often we frame the issue as a crossroads at which we are forced to choose “hard” or “smart.” The question that we should begin to ask is, why not do both?

In general, our culture has always approached with reverence the hard work that leads to the achievement of the result of a relentless work ethic, dedication and unite. This mentality base, historically linked to a vision of agrarian labor, has maintained his weight over the centuries, while the company has shifted its center of gravity from the countryside becoming industrialized. But the passage of transformation in service economy – especially in the digital revolution of the last quarter century – we began to question the concept of “hard work,” and see it as a relic of a past analogue, beginning to teach our children to work in a smarter, not harder (smarter, not harder).

The growth of the doctrine “smarter, not harder,” has brought several advantages for the younger generation. Trusting in technology and learning how to set the right priorities time-efficiency, we have become multitasking users and capable of creative thinking and entrepreneurial. Since our youth we were trained to never be satisfied with the conventional ways of doing things that were proposed and to seek a “better mousetrap ever.”

Work in a smart can definitely be seen as essential, but it is only half the equation. No successful entrepreneur or senior executive will tell you that working smart can never replace the applied with maximum effort in every single hour of the day when we are awake. To reach the top in your field, you must not only take full advantage of technology and work efficiently, but also to be the first to arrive at the office and the last to unplug the computer, toiling from the early hours of the morning, when the your competitors are still sleeping. Smart work allows us to have more time, but this does not lead to anything, unless you make the best use of the time gained.

The most successful CEOs awake at 6:15 am on average, and many of them before 5, the majority also works at least two hours at home after dinner. In some cases they come to have a working day of 18 hours. Many of these industry leaders to link their success to the fact of working while the other leave ago.

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, attributes its success to its ability to burn the candle at both ends, as stated in his recently published book, Without Their Permission.

As an entrepreneur’s startup SCVNGR, based in Boston, which helps companies engage customers through location-based games for smartphones, he says: “I work outside of normal office hours, almost as much as during office hours. I interview people on Saturday, late at night, early in the morning … During the startup I think we have to choose between being productive or have a social life, and I chose to be productive.”

If we are to succeed we must not be content simply to work smart. People with the most successful work smart, but also work exceptionally hard, maintain the same level of commitment as they learn new ways to do things more efficiently. Not that everyone should aspire to become CEO, but for those of us who want to reach this goal, find the most efficient methods to accomplish the goals is only half the battle.

Ultimately, we can say that the hard work and smart work taken in itself is not sufficient to achieve a successful business – clearly ingenuity, overview, ability to calculate risks and luck, among others, play too they play an important role – but both are essential, and it is time to stop considering them as if they were mutually exclusive. Young professionals and budding entrepreneurs have to work even harder, more smart, longer and better – because their competitors are already doing.

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