"The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great cause they paint a lot."
- Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Ten Thousand Hours
I love this song. I love this line. It is also very true. To become the best, to become great, you need to do whatever it is you want to be the best/greatest at, a lot. It needs to be on your mind 24/7. Every waking hour you need to focus your attention on becoming the best. It is not easy and this applies to all fields and all types of work.
Whether you are an athlete, programmer, rapper, or something else, becoming the best is no easy feat. It requires 10,000 foul shots, 10,000 pitches, 10,000 verses spit. And even then you may never see greatness, you may never become the best.
The Ten Thousands Hours song is a good reminder that people are rarely born with greatness but rather need to work hard to achieve it.
It seems like everyone wants to skip the mailroom these days. Back in the day, if you wanted to work at a talent agency, you worked your way up from the mailroom. Some of the best agents started there, proved themselves, and ended up in senior roles at their organizations.
But in the startup world (and in general) no one wants to work their way up and put in the time. They want to be the boss or the team lead, but they don’t want to do the work to get there. There are some CEO/founder types who start a company at a young age and figure it out. They are the outliers, not the norm. Most people need to work for others, learn from others, and then go out and become the founder/CEO or the boss of others.
Bottom line: Work in the metaphorical mailroom. Go through the nitty gritty, the grunt work, learn from people who have done it before. Skipping steps will harm you in the long run (think of a professional basketball player not fully developing in College before going to the NBA). Once you are ready, and only then, you should take the jump.
The late night check-outs of your office.
The tweet/check-ins on Saturday and Sunday trying to humblebrag that you work weekends.
No one should glorify working long and hard hours. Working hard does not mean you are working smart or even getting more done. It might even mean you can’t figure out how to focus on the important stuff.
Working hard vs. working smart is something you don’t learn until you burn out a few times. I cringe when I see the young founder or business person push out that tweet or check-out about how hard they are hustling or the fact that they are leaving their office at midnight when I’m skimming my feed for news in my bed about to go to sleep. Having no work/life balance can only work for so long and it is not fulfilling. So let’s cut it out, please.
(Also- I’m by no means saying people shouldn’t work long and hard- I’m saying let’s cut out the glorifying part of it)
Anyway, let’s end this rant with a Yahoo answer, because they are either funny as hell or spot on.
Question: Why do people glorify “hard work”?
Yahoo Answer: Working isn’t about working hard. It isn’t about working long hours. It’s about working efficiently, being productive and getting your job done effectively with the least amount of effort possible.
I have a friend who brags that he busts his *** 60 hours a week driving a Coca-Cola delivery truck. Congratulations, I work 35 and make twice as much as he does.
Shouldn’t we stop pretending spending 50+ hours a week at the office or jobsite to be a good thing and recognize that real genius is finding a way to streamline the process and get that same job done in 25?