Lifting Bro (Work Hard & Work Smart)

So I have this theory, right? I know, crazy of me to suggest this – I never have those.

But just hear me out alright?

I have this theory that hard work does pay off, but in order for it be worthwhile, you do have to work smart too.

One of my painting professors in my university fine arts program made this really solid point about the importance of getting a career in my second year.

He told the class on the first day, during a review of the syllabus and what we would need to in terms of supplies, that we should probably get a well paying day job if we wanted to be successful artists.

Wait, what?

I know, hear me out though! He said that becoming either a plumber or an electrician were a sure way to ensure we got paid while we stuck to the course of honing our craft and making connections in the marketplace and eventually finding a way to sell our work and make an impact in the art world.

I mentally recorded that idea because I thought it was an odd one, but also because I believed what he said almost right away. I had heard my share of comments about the futility of becoming successful as an artist, from loved ones and the general public. I needed to do what was necessary and make it happen for myself, I didn’t want to starve!

The idea of a starving artist isn’t exactly a new one. And where the heck did that idea of the starving artist come from anyway, and why is so pervasive in our culture?

That’s something that I want to talk about in the future dear readers, but which I will leave for another post.

However, let’s get back to this idea that my professor spoke about earlier.

He continued on to say to the class that the really talented people in school can never seem make it through the real challenges of life and so they stop making art. It’s the students who struggle initially in school and don’t get top marks, the ones that have to keep at it to get a win, and fight some hard won battles.

Those are the ones that typically become art superstars.

Now, this particular idea bothered me. Because I had always been good at art and was naturally gifted at it from a young age. I liked to draw and sculpt, to make family movies and so on. So I immediately thought to myself, “great, so I’m not going to make it because I have talent but I don’t have the commitment to stick it out.” And I was a little crushed. I carried that idea with me for the duration of my program and for a few years after I graduated too.

Granted, I did make steps to ensure I got a well paying job, but I kinda shrugged it off and made excuses for myself for a long time.

It was only recently that I realized what he was really trying to say!

No matter if you have natural talent at painting, music, comedy or dancing or if you simply enjoy it, the people who assume they know nothing and work hard to learn everything and continue learning as they go, are the ones who will eventually look back and see the formation of a career behind them and also see limitless opportunity ahead of them.

Richard St. John explains this idea particularly well in this clip about “why it pays to work hard.”

The real gift is not talent
It’s the ability to work hard
And we tend to underestimate work
And overestimate smarts
But in the end, work wins over smarts

Bold stuff right? It’s not entirely new, I’m sure lots of educators and coaches have stated this idea before, but let’s go back to my original theory for a minute again.

As I mentioned, I have this theory that hard work does pay off, but in order for it be worthwhile, you do have to work smart too.

Notice how I said you have to work hard abut you also have to work smart? That means you should always be working, no matter what. But unfocused work is not necessarily going to get you the results you need. No, you need to be prepared to fail. And to fail a lot.

Some people will tell you work does help, but that luck is a major factor in success. I would disagree with that statement, because if you keep trying, and try lots of different strategies, you will succeed.

It’s what some people call the numbers game. You see, the attitude of being in the right place at the right time also creates a scarcity mindset, and follows that same progression of thought which “talented” people have – that things are the way they are, and will work themselves out, with or without their direct involvement.

But that’s another idea which we can flesh out in the future.

What do you think of that theory dear readers? Should we work harder? Work smarter? Or a combination of the two? Leave some comments! Check back tomorrow for a movie review and maybe a theory too!


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