When we talk about working hard vs working smart, there can be a lot of argument. Some people say that to be successful, you need to work hard. And on the other hand, some people rely solely on working smart to achieve their goals.

Hard work is easy to understand – you work long hours and put in more effort than most people.

You start earlier than most people, you pour in more effort, and you stay up late when others have gone back home to enjoy their evening and weekends.

How about smart work then? How do you define smart work?

Smart work is harder to define because it has no clear guidelines on what it really means.

For some people, smart work means more application of brain power and less physical effort.

In my opinion, smart work is a methodology that gives you the most result (impact) with the least effort.

Success Requires Hard Work or Smart Work?

So are you working hard or are you working smart? I believe that no matter what it is you want to achieve in life, you need both – hard and smart work.

Here’s a story to illustrate how it works…

There was an old wealthy king who wanted to pass his throne to his heirs. The king has two sons, but he wasn’t sure who should be the next king.

One day, the king saw a painting of a pyramid hanging on the castle’s wall, he was inspired and he got the idea of building one.

So he instructed his two sons to build a pyramid. And the one who successfully built the pyramid will be crowned as the next king to the country.

And to be fair, the king instructed his two sons to build the pyramid on his own, without hiring anyone to do it. And they were given a 5-year time frame.

Without wasting any time, the first son quickly sourced for big rocks to lay as the foundation of the pyramid. And because the rocks were big and heavy, and he has to do it alone, it took him one whole day just to bring one rock to the site.

On the other hand, the second son didn’t gather the rocks, instead, he hid in his room to study and research on building pyramids.

After a year, the first son successfully built laid the first level of the pyramid. He was happy, but at the same time, he was also exhausted because he has been working really hard to gather all the big rocks to build the foundation.

And now came the second level. The first son needed to carry the rock and lay it on top of the first level, which was even more difficult.

Meanwhile, the second son finally made his move. He started to collect metal scraps from around to build a machine, which was something totally new to the people.

So people started calling him names like “the machine guy”, or the “the daydreamer”. But the second son believed in his own creation. He knew that his machine can build the pyramid faster than his brother.

After three years have gone, the first son has only laid three levels of the pyramid. The higher the level, the harder it was for him to carry the rocks to the top. And he was totally burnout due to 3 years of grueling hard work without getting much result.

As for the second son, his machine was finally ready. He started to use the machine he created to pick up the rocks and move them through a conveyor belt to the site.

In a month, the ground level of the pyramid was laid successfully. Everyone was astonished by his result and started to refer him as a “genius”.

Toward the end of the fourth year, the second son used his machine and has successfully built the pyramid his father wanted.

Of course, the kind then passed his crown to his second son.

What about the first son? Well, he was still working hard, carrying rocks to build the pyramid.

The higher the level of the pyramid, the more difficult it was for him to put the rocks there. And as time passed by, he was getting older and lack the energy. His pace became slower each day.

Eventually, he gave up on his dream of becoming the king of the country.

You have to have a dream, whether big or small. Then plan, focus, work hard, and be very determined to achieve your goals.

Hard Work is Mandatory

The moral of the story above tells us one thing – hard work is mandatory, but smart work is the key that makes all the difference.

When I’m doing research for this topic, I discovered that when people compare hard work vs smart work, they think they were given one option – to either work hard or to work smart.

It doesn’t work that way in life.

You can choose both. In fact, if you want to be successful and produce extraordinary results in life, you need to work hard and smart at the same time.

You can’t just opt for one. If you work hard and you’re not working smart, you will end up like the first son – putting all the hard work but have little to show for.

You need both. You need to work hard to develop a system or use the right strategy to produce more of the results you desire.

You don’t have to choose just one, you can choose both – hard work plus smart work.

Asking whether you should work hard or work smart is like asking whether your left or right hand is important.

Perhaps, both your right and left hands are important, right? You don’t want to choose just one. You want both.

Are You Working Hard Enough?

Like I said, hard work is mandatory when it comes to success. Without putting in the hard work, nothing will move for you.

Even people who work smart need to work hard to be successful.

Read the above line 3 more times.

You can’t rely on working smart alone. If you’re not putting in the hard work, you will never get as much out even if you work smart.

So the question now is – are you working hard enough?

Are what you do each day enough to make you successful? Can you achieve your goals if you continue to do what you do each day?

The point is that you want to make sure you are putting in the effort. Without effort, nothing will happen.

Most people have big dreams. They want to be successful. However, they are not taking enough action to make their dreams a reality.

They just dream about what they want but they’re not doing anything about it.

Is this happening to you? Be honest. Are you working hard enough to achieve your goals and dreams?

If you’re not, perhaps, you need to come up with a better action plan/schedule.

Let me tell you this, nothing comes easy. Success isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work, setbacks, and challenges.

You will fail, for sure. But are you going to do it?

Are you willing to put in the extra effort to make your dreams come true? Are you truly committed and are willing to do whatever it takes?

Here’s how working hard has paid off for these successful people (source from Business Insider):

  • Michael Jordan is the NBA legend. When he first joined the league, his jump shot wasn’t good enough. So he spent his offseason taking hundreds of jumpers each day.
  • Howard Schultz, the Starbucks CEO gets to the office by 6 in the morning and stays until 7. Even when he gets back shome in the evening, he has teleconferences with overseas employees and he goes to the office on Sundays.
  • Mark Cuban writes that when he started his first company, there were many nights where he stayed up to 2 in the morning reading about new software, went 7 years without a vacation.
  • Tim Cook, the Apple CEO has always been a workaholic. An article from Fortune reports that Cook begins sending emails as early as 4:30 in the morning. Some said he was first in the office and last to leave and hold meetings on Sunday night to prepare for Monday.

So, are you working hard enough?

You really don’t have to compare yourself with others. You don’t need to go to the office at 7 in the morning at leave at 8. You really don’t.

But one thing for sure, you must make sure you are doing your very best at every moment of every day.

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.

The Hard Work Test

So is there a formula to know if you are working hard enough? Well, there is. I learned this from the internet entrepreneur, Russell Brunson.

One day, Brunson was told to wash his dad’s car. So he washed the outside and the inside. He did it quickly by spraying the windows and did a few other things.

Then he got back inside the home and told his dad he had done washing the car. Brunson said, “Okay, Dad, I’m done. Do you want to come look at it?”

This was his dad’s response:

“Russell, are you proud of it? If you’re proud of it, you’re done.”

Brunson knew he had cut corners a bit because he wanted to get the chore done quickly so he could hang out with his friends. He felt guilty of his own work.

In everything that we do in life, we tend to cut corners.

Sometimes we want to get things done quickly because we have other things to do. And sometimes just because we want to deliver the work, we get it done in a low-quality manner.

Of all the articles I wrote and published, some are good, some are not.

After I learned this test from Russell Brunson, it really made me think about my work.

Am I writing and publishing articles just for the sake of it or do I do it because I really want to inspire people?

Will I be proud of my own work?

There you go – if you’re proud of your own work, you’ve worked hard enough.

You don’t want to deliver sub-par or low-quality work that will tarnish your reputation.

Remember, if you want to be successful, you must deliver top quality work. And to achieve that, you must work hard for it.

And how do you know if you have worked hard enough?

Simple, ask yourself, are you proud of what you have done?

If you did, you have done great work.

Else, go back and review your work. Do it so that you will feel proud of what you have done.

If you’re blogger, deliver great quality content so that you will feel proud of your work and your readers will benefit from what you have shared.

If you’re in business, deliver quality services and products that you are proud of.

No matter what industry or what you do, deliver work that will make you proud. Got it?

Are You Working Smart?

Strategy is everything. And it depends on your strategy, you will get a different result.

Working smart is all about your strategy.

If you keep running West and you hope to catch the sunrise, I’m here to tell you your goal is impossible.

You need the right plan to produce the right result. If you use the wrong plan, you will get the wrong thing.

For example, there are many ways how you can build a successful business using the internet.

  • Some people choose to sell other people’s products as affiliates.
  • Some people source for products from China and then sell them on Amazon.
  • While others build an authority website and brand themselves as the influencers in their industry.

Whatever roadmap or plan you choose, will greatly affect the way you do things.

Working smart is about doing the right thing in the right way to produce the most success.

First, you need to identify the right thing. What is your purpose? What do you want to accomplish?

Next, you must find a way to produce better results with the least effort.

The way you do things may not be the best way. Perhaps, there are other better and more effective ways that can boost your results.

For instance, there are many tactics you can invest in real estate. Some people use the ordinary strategy and they invest in just one or two properties.

On the other hand, there are also people who use a totally different strategy that allows them to invest in ten properties at one time.

And it depends on your end goal. If you want to own as many properties in the shortest time possible, you need to learn the right strategy. That’s working smart.

But if your end goal is to use property investment as a means of saving, then you don’t have to own a lot of properties.

One thing you have to understand though, most people are working hard, and in order for you to excel and create outstanding success, you need smart work.

Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort makes all the difference!

How to Work Smart

So you want to work smart to produce extraordinary results, right? Here are the 5 principles you must adhere to:

1) Work on the right purpose

This quote from Stephen Covey summed it all:

“As you climb the ladder of success, be sure it is leaning against the right wall. If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

You must make sure you are traveling in the right direction. So first, understand your purpose. Find out the reason why you’re working on your goal and make sure your goal is what you really want to achieve.

2) Work with the right plan

Like I mentioned above, there are many ways to achieve your goal. If you want to make a million dollars a year, then don’t follow a plan that only makes you $10K a month. Do you get that?

Study, learn, do research, and follow the proven path of those who have done it.

3) Work for improvement

The only way to work smart is to constantly review your work for improvement. if you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting what you have always got.

Hence, review your progress and result. Make sure you do something different and improve your strategy from time to time.

4) Work with passion

Without passion, there’s no way you can produce outstanding results from what you do. Think about it, if you don’t like your job and you do it with a half-hearted attempt, do you think you will become great at your job?

I doubt it. This is why you must love what you do. When you are passionate about what you do, only then you will do it with your best.

5) Work for others

Smart work is about creating more values for others. It is not about yourself. It is about helping and creating values for others.

The more people you help, the more successful you will be.

I have covered these 5 principles in my previous article. And I suggest you read it to understand more about working smart:

Stop Working Hard Unless You Fulfill These 5 Principles


Now that you understand how to work smart and why hard work is a must.

I really hope that you are cleared now you need both hard work and smart work to produce extraordinary success in life.

A lot of people have the wrong perception to think that when they work smart, they don’t need to work hard, which is absolutely wrong.

Like the story of how the king wanted his two sons to build the pyramid, both sons worked hard, but with smart work, the effort you put in can yield a million folds.

Think of hard work and smart work like your hands and legs. Do you think your legs are more important or your hands are more important?

Well, both are important and you needed both. Same goes with working hard and working smart, you need both.

What do you think? Leave your comment below. Cheers.

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I'm a blogger, writer, and also an internet entrepreneur. If you want to learn more about me, kindly go to the About page. By the way, have you downloaded your FREE copy of Reach Your Goals? Don't forget to do so. Cheers. :)

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