By Steve Watkins
It’s one thing to have talent. But to get the most out of those skills, work hard and be resilient to drive yourself to greater gains — especially when facing roadblocks.
Tom Lewis’ first real job was at a construction company in Lexington, Kentucky, working a jackhammer and rock drill. As a college kid, most of his friends had easier jobs. But Lewis, founder of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based real estate and investment company T.W. Lewis, still recalls the feeling of pride and accomplishment that job gave him at the end of a hard but productive day.
“It lifted me up a notch and improved my self-esteem,” Lewis, who wrote “Solid Ground,” told Investor’s Business Daily. “The beauty of hard work is you don’t have to be smashing rocks to realize how good it can make you feel.”
He sees a direct correlation between hard work and success. “The ones who put in the most time are the ones who want to win,” he said.
Find Inspiration In Hard Work
Former president Calvin Coolidge touted the importance of people putting their noses to the grindstone.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence,” Coolidge said. “Talent will not. Genius will not. Education will not. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
“There’s a lot of truth to that,” said Joe Tye, founder and head coach at Solon, Iowa-based business culture consultant Values Coach.
He pointed to authors J.K. Rowling and John Grisham, who still work hard to crank out more novels. Michael Jordan was known throughout the NBA for his remarkable work ethic almost as much as his amazing talent.
“That’s just who they are,” Tye said. “How tempting would it be (to slack off) when people will pay you millions to be on a cereal box. But you’re the first one to the gym in the morning.”
Find A Reason
One way to make sure you’re putting in that extra effort is to go after a bigger purpose.
“People are going to work harder when they feel like they’re an owner than if they feel like they’re renting a spot on the organizational chart,” Tye said.
You have to love what you’re doing, too.
“To consciously find a way to bring joy to your work is an incredible motivator,” Tye said.
Lewis suggests trying to do something you know will be hard to accomplish. You’ll build resilience. And after you fail, get back up and keep trying.
“You realize you’re not afraid to get knocked down because you know you can get back up,” Lewis said.
U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once had a staffer prepare a paper on a vital national security matter. He got the paper finished by the next morning, as instructed. Kissinger asked if it was the best the staffer could do. He said if he had more time he could do some extra research. They went through this exercise twice in the next couple of days before the staffer said it was in fact his best work.
“Dr. Kissinger knew that getting the job done right would take a lot more effort than just getting the job done,” Lewis said. “How many times does a person do the best they can do? Most people do it once and turn it in.”
Demand Hard Work
Build hard work into your group’s culture by recognizing and rewarding it when you see it.
“A pat on the back is more productive than the crack of a whip,” Tye said.
The key, Lewis says, is hiring people who have that work ethic. “If we found they didn’t, we let them go work for the competition,” he said.
People will find the harder they work, the more proficient they’ll become at their craft, too. “If you want to be successful and feel good about yourself, get to work,” Lewis said.
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