Bill Burr has a great bit about antagonizing his girlfriend while she watches Oprah.
Oprah introduces her guest as doing “the hardest job in the world”…being a mother. Bill says, really? Being a mother is the hardest job? Then he goes on to compare it with coal mining or “roofing in July as a red head.”
He says any job you can do in your pajamas can’t be that hard.
Of course, his goal is to get a laugh. I’m a parent, and I’m not saying it’s not a hard job (and also clearly harder for the mother). But I think whole thing is a funny caricature of the glorification of hard work in our culture. We tend to want to make things seem harder than they are. We wear it like a badge of honor.
I find business people particularly guilty of this. It’s about how early you get up, or how many hours you work.
The real question is, what’s it all doing for you? A lot of people who work very hard are going in circles. There’s a big difference between being busy and being PRODUCTIVE. The danger in always working harder is it tends becomes hard work for its own sake. It’s like we’re staying busy just to feel like we’re doing something.
The concept of hard work as it’s commonly understood ignores an important fact: that the people who are working the “hardest”, at the highest echelons of success, are doing it because it has inherent rewards for them. If it didn’t, they wouldn’t be doing it. Something innate drives them. This doesn’t mean that they never do anything they don’t want to do, but for the most part, they’re compelled to do what they do.
What we really want is not hard work, it’s INSPIRED work. That’s when our efforts are guided by higher principles.
This is more the terrain of THINKING and PLANNING.
When your work becomes a grind, there’s resistance in it. But you’ve gotta feel good to be at your best.
Think of an airplane trying to take off. As it accelerates, you’re aware of the motion of the plane. The friction created with the wheels on the runway results in a lot of shaking and noise. But when you’re in the air, you’re moving a lot faster than you ever could on the ground and you don’t feel as much.
Real momentum is like that.
You’re at your most productive when it doesn’t feel like work.
One reason we can get addicted to being BUSY is that we mistake this feeling for traction, like the plane trying to leave the runway. But when you can achieve without trying so hard, when it feels natural to progress, you unleash your potential. There’s less friction, less resistance. You move unobstructed.
And your innate goal-seeking abilities have a chance to work for you.