“Working hard at work worth doing.” Are you?
A friend of mine recently lost in her bid to be elected for public office. Last week an opportunity for me to contribute to a segment on a national talk show fell through. Last month I had another publisher ‘pass’ on the book I’m working on.
The fact is that whenever we take on lofty goals, there is risk we will not achieve them. Too often though when our efforts fail to produce we have worked hard toward, we focus on the failure. We think about what we missed out on doing or getting. People speak about their “wasted effort” implying that because they did not achieve the goal they set out toward – whether it be the business contract they had worked so hard to secure or the promotion that went to someone else despite their hours of overtime – that their effort was of no value.
But that is not true.
You do yourself a disservice when you approach hard work begrudgingly. There is little in life more rewarding than working hard at work worth doing, regardless of whether you always produce the result you want.
Working hard toward a goal or vision that inspires us, regardless of the outcome, always holds intrinsic value. What matters far more than what we get from our hard work and effort, is who we get to become from it. Caren echoed this sentiment last night with a group of supporters gathered in my home. She shared her gratitude for the rewarding experience of simply running for office and her appreciation for the opportunity to meet so many people, of all political persuasions and across all walks of life. Yes she worked hard. Very hard. Door-knocking on 20,000 doors hard. But she also drew enormous pleasure from the hard work, and shared the quote by Theodore Roosevelt which has inspired this post: “Far and away the best prize life has to offer is working hard at work worth doing.”
Caren worked her extraordinarily hard for the last 12 months. Her work ethic left me in awe as she made thousands of phone calls, and stood in metro stations handing out fliers. She put herself out there again and again and again because she is committed to make a meaningful contribution to her local community and state.
It is only human to feel disappointment when we don’t achieve something we have worked hard toward. But our hard work and effort is never wasted. It truly is one of life’s deep joys to “work hard at work worth doing.” And working hard toward something that fills you with purpose and passion is always work worth doing – whether it be raising your family, fulfilling a long held dream, building a business that fulfills an unmet need or, writing a book to change lives.
Today the word “work” has come to mean something to be avoided as much as possible for many people. But there is value in work. Not just for the money you can earn from it, but from the person you get to become. Hard work draws out talents and capacities that may otherwise have laid dormant.
“Far and away the greatest pleasure we can get in life is working hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
I don’t know what challenges you face right now. But I will bet that in order to meet them successfully it will require you to do some hard work yourself. Work isn’t always “fun”. Sometimes it can be a grind. But that does not diminish from its intrinsic value.
So let me ask you, where is your life calling on you to work harder at work worth doing? Whether it is the inner work of transforming the way in which you are living your life, or the outer “roll up your sleeves and set your alarm early” work, always keep forefront of mind, that nothing worth doing has ever been done without good old fashioned hard work. Period.
I invite you to recommit yourself to putting in the effort needed to live a life that honors the best of who you are, and who have yet to become. After all, in the end its never about the final destination, it’s about the spirit in which we pursue the journey.