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Hard Work Is Not Enough


Robby

If you want to advance your career, maybe find a better job or get promoted within your current job I have some sobering news for you. Hard work is not enough. In fact, hard work isn’t even all that important! I know you have been told your entire life that if you work hard you’ll be rewarded, but that’s just not true.

That’s not to say that you should be lazy, it’s just that hard work is easily misinterpreted, often overlooked, and can often inspire jealousy instead of inspiring others.

Working Hard
© Flickr User SuperFantastic

The first and most important lesson to learn about hard work is that the amount of effort you put it has absolutely nothing to do with the number of people will be affected by your labor. Sometimes, you might go to gargantuan efforts to help just one customer solve one problem that they don’t understand or even consider significant. Other times, an offhand comment made in a meeting, an email sent to distribution list, or a letter to the editor may be the spark that ignites a fire you never imagined.

Another difficult lesson about hard work is the relationship between the strength of your efforts and your personal pride. If you look back on grades you earn, diplomas you receive, accolades that came through merit, or personal victories that required tremendous blood and sweat, you likely feel a sense of satisfaction about what you have done.

But when you share these achievements with others, it’s easy to sound like a braggart. A key problem with hard work is that you can’t really talk about it–you just have to hope other people notice it and recognize you for what you’ve done. And as we all know, so much of the hard work we do does not seem all that difficult to someone on the outside.

Working Hard
© Flickr User IDVMedia

If hard work has the baggage of so many social foibles, what should we do instead? Here’s some advice: separate your sense of pride in your work from your efforts to manage your personal brand. Don’t worry about what other people think about the hard work you’re doing. Instead, focus on producing results that are valuable to others–regardless of how much effort they actually take to create.

A great example within a company is the authoring of documentation. It’s usually much harder to do a job or to figure out how it should be done then it is to write about the procedure. But if your name and fingerprints are all over an internal documentation, people will know who you are. They will see you as an expert. Your work will survive in the form of that manual.

Writing is generally a great technique for promoting your brand without getting caught up in the psychology of hard work and personal pride. You can publish your writing on your LinkedIn profile, you can contribute to local publications or websites, or you can submit articles to trade magazines in your industry. These are ways that others will perceive you as valuable, because they see your name in print.

Beyond writing, giving a presentation–even an informal lunch-and-learn–is a fantastic way to offer value. You can teach your colleagues something new and have a higher status in their mind.

Likewise, anything you do that is helpful to an individual person who is in a difficult work situation is a good way to improve your personal brand. If a colleague needs someone to review their work, to pitch in on a project that is slipping behind, or to be the advocate for a challenging third-party, consider stepping up to the plate. When people need help, they are more likely to remember you as being helpful. That’s a great way to manage your brand.

Hard work is important. Well, at least a little important. What’s most important is to work smart: and doing so means managing the perception of your work within your circle of contacts. Think about your brand as well as about what you need to get done.

That’s what really matters in your career.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Wed, November 20 2013 » Change Managment and Learning Organization, Self Development, Success Consciousness

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