The Four Letter Word that Makes the Difference
It matters more that you believe in work than you believe in yourself. You say, if you don’t believe in yourself, you won’t work. But, self-belief is irrelevant, if you don’t work.
Work makes you matter.
Work – so you don’t have to work – misses the point.
Believe in work or drift into oblivion.
16 ways to believe in work:
- The work of leaders is people.
- The point of self-reflection is effective, efficient work.
- Everyone who fulfills their purpose in this world, works.
- Fear insignificance. Those who are able to work but don’t, lead irrelevant lives.
- “Don’t prepare. Begin.” Steven Pressfield, The War of Art.
- Spend energy on things that produce results. If you feel like you’re wasting time, you already have.
- Put your head down and get something done. The trouble with big dreams is they paralyze. Dream of getting something done today.
- Focus on what’s most important during peak performance time. Are you a night owl? Do what means the most at night.
- Eliminate distraction and multi-tasking. Let’s say your concentration-capacity is fifteen minutes. Block out fifteen minutes and work on one thing.
- Honor your talent by protecting, developing, and exercising it, while you work.
- Ignore every reason for not working. There are a million reasons not to work. Ignore them all.
- Produce mediocre results, but produce something. Improve results tomorrow.
- Read, The War of Art. I own a hard copy, an electronic copy, and an audio version.
- Finish something. Write down three things you must complete today and complete them. If three is too many, write down one.
- Hang with people who get things done.
- Practice interval work. Work as hard as you can for 20, 30, or 40 minutes. Take a break. Come back and work again. Short breaks enhance work.
Commitments are decisions made once. Commit to work.
What prevents leaders from doing the real work of leadership?
What does believing in work mean to you?
Thanks for sharing this. I’m going to print it out and really give it some thought and action.
I have put a lot of thought into this. I come from a family of professional, highly talented musicians. Growing up, I understood it was a matter of talent. However, after reading The Outliers and finding out about the 10,000 hours of practice, I went back and found out my relatives had talent but due to the passion they had for their instrument, they practiced and practiced and practiced and they were emotionally and physically committed to practice.
I took up the violin by accident as an adult 3 years ago despite have a neurological condition and a muscle-wasting disease like muscular dystrophy. I set small goals because my main impetus at the start was just to help our daughter but I was surprised to find I was actually picking it up and I could do it. I have great pitch but struggle with my fingers and bowing a bit and sometime my violin even feels heavy. Yet, I passed my preliminary exam getting an A. I am now learning 3rd position and progressing slowly but well beyond my expectations. This has been achieved through work, commitment, perseverance and passion. I found the sounds of the violin expressed what I called my soul song. The violin is the closest instrument to the human voice. If persistent work can help me play the violin and I have since applied the same sort of slow, steady approach to learning how to ski. It works, even against the odds xx Rowena
PS Must order the War of Art before I forget.
Thanks Roweeee. Your story is a perfect illustration of the power of just starting. We never exceed our expectation unless we start.
Congratulations and thanks or sharing your story.
Thank you very much, Dan, I enjoy sharing my story because I think it can encourage others to have a go at things they never believed possible just by walking step-by-step and working hard. I have a few things I need to get started on so thanks for that reminder as well. I find your blog very encouraging and practical xx Rowena
Wow, Rowena! That’s incredible! People like You, inspire me and it’s like a good kick in my butt to get things done! Thanks for sharing and congratulations! Keep playing, keep working and make this world believe that human abilities (even with neurological condition) are limitless!
That butt kicking process is eternal and ongoing. I have managed to pull off some pretty extraordinary things in the last couple of years and then struggled with such basic stuff. It has taken a long time to come to grips with that and I now consider it a situation of “living with contradiction”, which can also mean simply living with life’s ups and downs. It’s just that the ups and downs aren’t necessarily predictable and may not make a lot of sense. xx Rowena
I feel the same way but instead it is with painting, I concur that thinking that all artist paint and it comes easy then after spending time reading about all of them, talking to many, that it takes practice, practice, practice, and that is work. I will be reading the book that Dan recommends for sure.
I ordered it straight away online before I forgot. xx Rowena
This is not a comment about today’s blog rather a thank you for your faithfulness in writing a blog each day. Somedays, your blogs are what keep me going! They are all insightful and inspiring!
Thank you! Thank you! and Thank you again!
Happy New Year!
Wow! Thanks Patti. We all succeed WITH others, never on our own. It’s a pleasure to be on the journey with you.
Funny, Dan. I have had the thought Patti just expressed repeatedly. I keep saying to my assistant, “How does he do it?! Geez, everyday he’s got smart things to say.” I’ve been speaking, writing and coaching for 25 yrs. So, I’ve seen and heard A LOT. I’d like to give credit where it’s due. I have no idea how you do it, but thank you for your consistent, insightful, concise words of wisdom.
Profoundly true… and in a work culture in which strategy, vision and planning have taken on great importance, the necessity of “doing the work” sometimes has little pizazz!
Thanks Ken. The trouble with work is it’s lack of pizazz. 🙂 Thanks for that.
Thanks for being my #15. I never regret the time I spend reading and commenting here or conversing with you.
I’m planning to re-read “The War of Art” sometime this quarter. Thanks for that recommendation and reminder as well.
What a pleasure to know you, James. It’s great to feel like we are getting somewhere AND doing it together.
Dan, I agree with the importance of interval work. I find that approach particularly helpful with tasks that are less than inspiring.
Thanks Bruce. It sure helps me to give myself permission buckle down for a certain time and then ease up, talk a walk, or just chill for a few minutes. 🙂
Dan, I’ve been retired for several years now but still feel compelled to work every day. Now a full-time writer, I sometimes ask myself why I’m working so hard? I’m supposed to be retired! Your blog today expressed perfectly what I feel so strongly: if I’m not working, I’m only existing, not living.
Thanks Pat. EXACTLY!! I like the ability to control my schedule. In other words, I’m not punching a clock. But the thought of not working is just silly. 🙂 Best wishes
“Work” to me is about survival for most of us! Iff we Don’ t work we don’t earn money, at which point we can not acquire the maens to buy food, pay bills etc. So if we Don’ t work we don’t eat in the most direct terms. Yes we can survive if we know how to manipulate the system in its most raw form! We are all Survivor’s in one form another when we ste blessed with Tommorow!
Thanks Tim. Keep working = keep eating. I guess I better get back to work. 🙂 Cheers
Dan, thank you for encouraging us to be more intentional as we begin this great new year!
Thanks Tshelley. Have a great year.
Great insight and really motivational. I will go through spurts of planned work for a day, week, or month then for some reason discontinue the process. Why? Like drinking enough water…I know it makes me feel better but at times I just don’t do it. These help to get me back on track….thanks.
Thanks DC. It seems that all of life has starts, stops, and starting again. 🙂 Best to you.
Thanks for sharing, Dan! Perfect read for the beginning of the year! I might print this post and put it where I can see it every single day! 🙂 Happy new year! xx
Thanks Vita. Best wishes with your endeavors in 2015.
Dan, Your message today is great. Within a few lines of reading it, I kept thinking “purpose.” To me, (and maybe it is semantics or style) purpose is what drives us. Work is the outcome of purpose. Like apples hanging on an apple tree. We see and focus on the apples, but it is the tree that produces the fruit. Regardless, they go hand in hand. Your message today is one I’ll be sharing with my employees. They are a great group and purpose driven.
I always enjoy it when readers take an idea and make it their own. Thanks for sharing your insights. Happy New Year
I appreciate your thoughts all the time. Today’s are especially valuable to me. In high school a coach commented about a friend of mine that he was not the most talented player on the team, but because of how hard he worked he was one of the most important on the team. The coach offered that in his experience great effort often out performed great talent. You reminded me of that little gem.
Perhaps to console failure we offer “well, it’s the thought that counts.” Your list of specifics reminded me that good intentions and good plans are not enough. I needed to hear that again today. Thanks.
Thanks Tim. Great reminder. I couldn’t agree more! I’m glad you dropped in.
Dan brings up a very important concept here, and perhaps is introducing us to a new paradigm in leadership: Creating!
Does what we believe really determine our success or how well we will succeed? For years we’ve heard, “You are what you believe.” Or, “Change your beliefs and you can change your reality.” Well, how about persons like Mother Teresa, Babe Ruth, Mahatma Gandhi, Beethoven, Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstein, and many, many others who were just too busy “creating”—or like Dan says, working–to be immobilized by lack of beliefs.
People who are busy creating want to see their creation exist. It is not about them. It is not a reflection of them. They are not hoping a successful accomplishment validates them, or changes their various self-opinions. They are working on a common, shared vision in mind—a goal. What they believe about themselves is IRRELEVANT to their creative process. Instead they roll up their sleeves and get busy creating.
The point of creating is to bring into existence a creation: an outcome, a result, a goal, a quality of life. What we believe will not make a bit of difference. It is only when our focus moves from the creation to what it says about us, that we slip into our ego. And the irony is this: even if we have the most positive beliefs about ourselves, the moment we make it about us, it’s difficult to sustain our success.
If we are focused on our beliefs, it is important what we believe–so the major activity is conversion to the “right” belief. In creating it doesn’t matter what we believe, but how well we create. In fact, the central questions are: What result do I want to create? Where am I now? And how will I move from here to there. No matter what we believe, good, bad, or indifferent, we will be able to master our own creative process, and use that mastery in our own life-and work-building process.
Regarding belief and creating, I read the following quote in a 1961 book by Gladys Schmitt titled Da Vinci in which the great painter said: “It was always curious to me why it took longer for a farmer to paint his barn than it did for me to paint the Mona Lisa. The great joy in the art of life is to always think of the end and to begin.”
Thank you Books! Your comment makes me want to stand up and salute! Powerful.
I’very adopted the phrase Ready, Fire, Aim to motivate myself when I see that i’m not being productive. Sort of like the Nike motto: Just Do It!
Thanks Norman. YOu make me think … adapt as you go. If you don’t adapt you never get there. thanks.
Dan, thanks for another great post. At times, when my energy is low and I have many tasks to handle, I create a “to do” list and rank tasks in order of difficulty. Then I start working on the LEAST difficult item, and work up from there. This isn’t my standard practice, but it beats being paralyzed when I have completed an “A-List” job only to find that many other things are calling for my attention.
Thanks Bob. What I love about your comment is it went in the opposite direction than I expected. I like the idea that when energy is low, tackle a small issue. Bingo!
Ha – this was the final tell! And now I have my OneWord for 2015! It’s “BEGIN” and it’s already on a sticky on my screen. This is the second year I’m doing OneWord and Dan you were the one who introduced me to the concept last year. My 2014 word was “patience” and it really helped me throughout the year. Hoping it’ll be the same this time around.
= double thank you!
Thanks Daniel. Great word. Mine is extend. I must say that “begin” is so awesome I want it. 🙂 Best wishes.
That’s an awesome word, Daniel! I bet it will have staying power for the entire year! My word is Sharpen so I can get better at what I do and who I am.
Great advice!! Ok. I gotta go do something now!!! Tganks
I noticed #5 (“Hang with people who get things done.”) jives with the idea that we are the “average of the 5” people we spend the most time with.
We tell our children to choose their friends wisely; do we (adults) follow our own advice?
I have the hardest time beginning WORK in the morning. Funny thing is that when I’m done a task, I rarely think about how hard it was to start in the first place. Funny how that works. Thanks for sharing this, Dan!
I love 12 and 13! I was sub-lead on a project that with two weeks to the final deadline, individuals were still trying to redesign a piece for the umpteenth time. It was incredibly frustrating to watch talented people waste energy and an inordinate amount of time on planning, only to scramble at the end and be forced to abandon their original plans.
An over-emphasis on production is bad, but not producing is worse.
But what it does not address is, ” What is it that makes us not work, viz. put in our best when we do have the ability to do that?’ As I think of this, I realise that our work, our actions and thoughts are intrinsically linked to how the situation occurs for us. This occurring is again based on many things but one of them is context. The question that arises is , ‘ Can we change the context…. and thereby the occurring?’ I suppose that is what Leadership is all about, to be able to shift the occurring of all concerned and align that to a created future.