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Is working hard REALLY a virtue?

large mac monitor with the words 'do more' as wallpaper on screen

A couple of years ago something astonishing happened to me. Someone I’d never spoken with saw one of my LinkedIn posts, went to my website, found some extra details and signed up to work with me without getting on a call first.

That felt like a major milestone for me.

We didn’t need to schedule a call. Didn’t need to spend time in conversation, asking and answering questions of each other. There was no need to “handle objections” or “give me time to think”.

She simply wanted “in.” And since then her business has grown from £5k months to beyond £20k regularly.

She gets the credit (and the cash!)—she’s just someone who’s decisive and moves forward despite inner doubts. Progress over perfection. Process over outcome.

Unhelpful assumptions

The reason I bring this up is not to do with her results. It’s because the way she signed up made me realise that working hard is NOT required—just having the perfect solution at the right time is all you need.

Prior to this, I always spoke with people before they signed up. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course! And let’s be fair—calls like that are not really “hard work”, but they are definitely time-consuming.

We’ve all heard the cliché “work smarter not harder”—and I “got it” intellectually. What I now realise is that I hadn’t got it in practice.

This first sign-up-without-a-call changed the game for me. It showed me that it’s possible. Since then I’ve seen £20k+ sign-ups with no call needed. A friend of mine has had someone sign up for £42k with no need for a call.

What we’re experiencing is a breakthrough in beliefs. Simply put, the assumptions we were making turned out to be unhelpful. And we make so many assumptions about “work that’s needed”! Those assumptions make life “heavier”, and much harder work than is actually needed. Life isn’t meant to be hard—but our assumptions make it so.

girl working on a laptop in the dark
If this is you ALL THE TIME, you should probably reassess your attitudes to work and time.
Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

The indoctrination of your assumptions

Now, I expect on the first reading of this, you’ll feel some resistance and scepticism to this idea. (To be fair, I did too before I experienced it.) But WHY do we feel such resistance? Because we’ve been taught “working hard” is necessary and VIRTUOUS.

We’ve swallowed the message, and now we believe it—maybe not even realising it is, indeed, just a belief. How did we take on such beliefs?

Recognise these ideas?

  • “We stand for hard-working [British] people,” says the politician.
  • “Your salary is £50k per year, for 40 hours per week,” says the standard employer.
  • “How much is your day rate?” asks the potential new client company.

Do you see the narrative, and how it’s shaping “normal” thinking?

“Hard-working British people” sounds virtuous, doesn’t it? After all, if you’re not hard-working, what are you? “LAZY” perhaps?! Better to be hard-working than lazy, right?!

“40 hours per week”—based on time … time WORKING.

“Day rate”—based on time … time WORKING.

See how “normal” this is?

Let’s do a reality check—is “working hard” NOT a good thing?!

Time IS valuable … but it’s worth thinking a bit deeper first. Yes, time is valuable—but do clients want MORE TIME from you? Or would they prefer to get their results in LESS time?!

Yes, indeed … time is valuable—it’s SO valuable TO YOU. Let’s not be limited and trapped in the idea that working is more valuable than living.

Wouldn’t you rather have more time for you? And doesn’t “working hard” make that more difficult? In fact, doesn’t it take you away from having more “you” time?!

Maybe this is just fine in theory, but not practical? Let’s check …

Who gets the rewards?

single any carrying a leaf
Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Who is paid the highest amount? (Think about it …)

Those with ideas, like speakers, industry leaders, licence holders.

And those with lucrative models, like toll booth collectors, memberships, “guiding” rather than “doing”.

And who gets paid the least?

Hourly paid workers.

Salaried staff.

Hands-on workers.

In the knowledge economy, it is not time that’s highest rewarded—it is ideas & models most highly valued.

It’s clear, and it’s time to put the nail into the “hard work is necessary” coffin.

Let’s start

So let’s make a start to put this into practice in your own work …

A thought experiment for you:

If you were flat on your back in a hospital bed, only able to “work” for one hour per day:

  • How would your clients get results without relying on you?
  • What would you need to have in place for that to be possible?
  • How might your offer be different?
  • What benefits would this have for your clients?
  • What benefits would this have for you once you leave hospital?!
  • How does this change your assumptions and ideas about your current business model?

Honestly, I thought I “got” the “work smarter” idea, but it wasn’t until I turned the idea into an experience that I truly “got it”. And once you’ve got it, going back to the “work hard” model seems like the most ridiculous idea imaginable.

Time is SO precious—don’t waste it on unquestioned assumptions and beliefs. The rewards are already waiting for some smart thinking to unlock them.

  • This article originally appeared here.
  • Listen to our podcast with Chris here.

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