“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”—Bill Gates
This is a quote that has come into my awareness a couple of times recently. It made me think of hard work and the value of sticking at something over the long term.
I’m old enough now to know what traditional hard work looks like—where you stick at the same job until you retire. I’m old enough to know what the Grant Cardone of hustle culture looks like—’go big or go home’. And I’m now observing the anti-hustle culture mindset where you shouldn’t do more than you need to.
I don’t make choices for other people. But I do believe in hard work. I believe in hard work where you get to set yourself a challenge that is just out of reach and where you can give intense focus, and over time, achieve it.
It’s in my DNA. When I finished my high school exams on a Thursday, I was in work on a Friday. When I was a graduate at IBM, I was building a business with my brother at weekends (which after 19 years is my day job).
When I now look at the challenge I have with building Flowtelic, I have accepted that it’s going to take a lot of sacrifice, a lot of hard work, and a lot of time. I’m already into year three of this journey and I still feel like I’m at the foot of the mountain.
In a way, I want my legacy to be where someone looks at what I’ve achieved and think it’s voodoo magic. I want to be someone who will do the hard thing, and go further than any other person is prepared to go in order to solve ‘this’ problem. However, I want to do it with reasonable sacrifice and great strategic excellence behind the scenes.
This means I will be there taking my kids to school. I will be there at their swimming lessons. I will be there to play with them. I will be there to read their bedtime story and say goodnight.
But when the lights go out, I get to work. Hard work for me is about consistency, and the exact use of my 25 years of expertise. It’s about paying attention to the things I need to learn as I go about my day, so that when the sun sets, I can maximise the output by putting that skill to use.
But it’s also about accepting that I can always do more, but I do have limits. It’s about saying no to the things that distract from the mission. And it’s about being patient.
This is why I don’t fear someone else taking my ideas. If they were obsessed enough to put the hard work in, they would have their own ideas fuelling that obsession.
Today’s Ah-Ha moment is giving yourself permission to work hard. But make sure you give yourself the head space to work smart, and with some strategic thinking supporting it. It helps when you have a why so that you know what your just cause is.
Create the illusion of doing what other’s think is impossible.