The Effort Illusion: Hard Work is the Answer

Repetition isn’t the answer when you aren’t getting where you want to go. But sometimes progress is the opportunity to sing again.

Hard work isn’t the answer:

#1. Hard work isn’t the answer when you neglect the right questions.

Discouragement sets in when work is only a means to an end.

You won’t always achieve the ends you desire, but you can always do the work.

  1. Why work? Work is its own reward.
  2. What is success? Success is the opportunity to engage in useful labor.
  3. What matters? Working to get things for yourself is normal. Working to bring value to others is greatness.
  4. What painful problem are you solving? The solution you’re working to create begins with a painful problem. Maybe the problem is food on the table. If you have enough food, it’s something more.
  5. What is progress? Define progress before discouragement sets in. 

#2. Hard work isn’t the answer when you already work long hours.

Don’t be like the lost hiker who picks up the pace only to arrive at the same spot.

Climb a tree.

  1. What makes you think you’re heading in the right direction?
  2. What are you doing that holds you back?
  3. How much rest makes you great at work?
  4. How have you made the best contributions in the past? How might you do more of that?

#3. Hard work isn’t the answer when you regularly shoot yourself in the foot.

  1. Lack of integrity weakens the value of your work.
  2. Poor people skills dilute the power of hard work.
  3. Broken relationships undermine progress.
  4. Starting too many things and finishing too few devalues results.

The great battles are within.

  • Vulnerability is the opportunity for meaningful work. A closed fist prevents you from bringing value.
  • Slowing down when you feel unappreciated.
  • Needing results to validate the intrinsic value of work.

How has the effort illusion held you back?

What makes hard work effective?