It's Not Just About Hard Work


Let's cut to the chase.  A lot of us have gone through life working hard while watching some people barely showing up and passing us by.  It's like in school when you studied your butt off for a C, and the kid next to you aced it without even studying!  Let's be honest, there's some people who just don't need to try as hard.  If you're like me, you have to work at it, study, show up, and be the best just to be average.  Now that sounds a bit Debbie-downer-ish, but it's true.  Don't feel bad.  We are different - some people our naturally talented, and some have to train and practice to be great..and that's totally ok.  If you're like me, then read the 5 tips below to help you in the work place.


1. Work SMART!

So many times have I told my team, work smarter not harder! I'm sure you've heard it too.  There are times, when we get to the solution, but doing 10x more than we actually have to get there.  My job as an Area Manager was to help my team get to the solution with the least amount of steps.  For example, short staffing.  It was always a hurdle to get over because of promotions, or simply moving people to the branches that needed it most.  Well, my team's first thought was to work every weekend because they did not have enough staff to cover.  However, once we looked at a few things, we were able to come up with a schedule that allowed the team to have a work/life balance, and have enough coverage at the same time.  It's about planning.  In our line of work, we try to do our best by being proactive.  Some times you have no choice but to be reactive.  However, by being proactive, you know exactly what's going on before it happens, and you have plan A, B, or even C to help you get through it.  Sit down and plan to avoid making inefficient decisions.



2. Take a break!

For some reason I thought that vacations, calling in sick, and not being the perfect employee were for the weak.  In my 12 years at the same company the longest vacation I took was a total of 8 working days.  That was October of THIS YEAR for my 2nd anniversary to Europe.  When I got married I took 7 working days.  I have called in sick maybe once/year for the past 3 years.  Before that, I showed up looking and feeling like poop.  I was always the first to be there and the last to leave.  If someone needed something I would be the first to stand up and do it.  It didn't occur to me that this did absolutely nothing for my personal growth or for my team's growth.  I was ALWAYS available.  Taking a break means you get to recharge, refuel, and allow your brain to regain its energy.  Towards the end of my career I felt my creativity slowly fading away.  It wasn't that I HAD to be there, I just felt bad for not being there.  I felt that if I was there to help with the little things, the more successful they would be.  Well, it was beneficial because my team trusted me and I was able to gain their buy-in.  However, they did not trust anyone else.  One of the reasons I got promoted was for this alone.  Well - I didn't know how to show someone else how to do that.  I only knew how to do it myself.  So I struggled when I had to pass the reigns on to those under me who had to do the same thing.  Trust me, take a break - your team will thank you for it. 


3. Be valuable!

How often do we just show up for work, do our duties, then go home and complain about this coworker, or this issue, or that problem?  *raises hand*  Let's be real though, there is only a select few that show up and really contribute to the purpose of the company.  Your managers and superiors didn't make it to their roles simply just by showing up.  They took the extra step.  Your superiors don't always have the right answers - they probably just try to contribute a whole lot.  They have ideas.  They might not always work - but at least they're trying.  Those are the people that I hire.  People that believe in the company, the mission statement, and the vision.  They want to make things better.  Moving up in my company I always made sure that I was of value.  That's probably why I was super dependable.  But I always tried to figure out to resolve things, make processes better, or simply perform at maximum capacity.  Show your worth - because you weren't there to just do the job.  If you want more - you've got to give more.


4. Be Better!

Like I just said - your superiors are not always right.  They are trying hard to come up with the best solutions that will work for so many different people; you, the company, their boss, etc.  It's not as easy as it looks.  How are you learning? How are you trying to be better at what you do?  You are working 40 hours/week at your job - what can you be doing to better yourself?  Remember, you were created to create.  This means that no matter what position or company you are in - whether you love it or hate it - you are there for a reason.  How can you be better everyday to make others better?

5. Try to fail!

Now this is a concept that doesn't really make sense, but just hear me out.  I have played it safe a lot.  Working so hard to be perfect, not make a mistake, or get in trouble.  Now, that got me just that.  But working hard to not get in trouble was all I did.  I didn't win crazy awards or get promoted faster than anyone else.  The people who got promoted were the ones who took a chance, failed, and tried again.  I have learned the hard way - by playing it safe does nothing.  The fear of failing always got in the way of accomplishing things better and faster.  I was also the one who sucked at letting people know that I simply didn't know.  I didn't ask questions, I didn't admit to defeat.  I was always trying to give people the impression that I had every answer.  It's a hard reputation to keep up.  I would have rather just show that I didn't know and ask a ton of questions - that way I didn't feel so alone.  I think but trying to be perfect I avoided a lot of relationships.  I didn't want people to get too close an know the truth..(I really had no idea what I was doing - I had to fake it to make it!) Maybe I'll write the next blog on that topic.

If you are wondering why you are working so hard and not getting anywhere - then I suggest you take a look at these 5 things and see if there's anything you can change.  Good luck and let me know how it goes!