In the wake of this post on working hard or just working lots, I had a few chats with people that basically asked "so, what is work that matters?" In other words, what does true hard work look like?
This, of course, will vary based on your situation. But here's my take on it. I'll be curious to hear what you think.
Work with Context
This is the obvious one: the work that matters is the stuff that lines up with what you're hoping to achieve long term. If you want to write a book, time to write is time well spent. If you're building a community, time spent cultivating and talking to the people you hope will be part of it is contextual, and likely well invested.
I tend to think that it's not enough to just check off the items on the list and call it a day. Work that matters - the stuff that really moves needles - is rarely accomplished by doing just enough to get by. To me, the hard, impactful work is the stuff where you do what's needed to get the job done, and then always look at how you can push it one step further to make it better.
Detours, Not Obstacles
Hard work is often illustrated when you see someone diligently working their way around a challenge, rather than lamenting their circumstances. It's the very act of doing instead of making excuses that can demonstrate work that makes a difference.
The discipline to measure and evaluate your work and learn from that analysis is what often separates the workers from the Workers. Demonstrating results, being willing to own both successes and failures, and committing to adjust the work accordingly is the mark of quality work, not just volume of tasks.
Stuff That Yields
Chris Brogan talks about the web enabling relationships that yield. I think the hard work - the stuff that's important - is, quite simply, the stuff that yields results. Whether that's better relationships, more money, better brand awareness and affinity, whatever. The hard work is in dedicating yourself to the things that produce.
So those are my five. Do you have some of your own? How do you recognize hard work when you see it, aside from just the hours someone logs?
I'm curious about your take. Sound off in the comments.
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