“Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” Dwayne Johnson
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Colin Powell
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Stephen King
“I can tell you that hard work pays off. It’s not just a cliche.” Cameron Diaz
You don’t have to look far to see more examples of successful people extolling the virtues of hard work. Extreme hard work. Articles outlining the work schedule of billionaires — rising at 6am and doing a 10 mile run. Getting up at 5am to do conference calls with the other side of the world. Rising at 4am. Working 100 hour weeks. Working 7 days a week. Sacking off friends and family to pursue your dreams. Staying in the office until everyone else has left, finishing one last task. Getting ahead start on tomorrow, today. Sleeping 4 hours a night. Answering every notification on your phone to do with work at all hours of the night. Sleeping in the office. Always being on. The grind. The hustle.
The narrative constructed in blogs, biographies, guides, and self-help books is that those that rise to the top of their chosen path do so not because they are more talented, but that they work 10x harder than anyone else to achieve it. That’s what makes them stand out and succeed.
There’s a fetishism around hard work. Being ‘busy’ is good, desirable, necessary.
This is misguided both because it’s dangerous, but also more fundamentally; it’s completely wrong.
Why it’s wrong
I like Will Smith.
Will Smith often reflects upon his own success by framing it in terms of hard work. He says he considers himself to have average talent, but a work ethic far greater than his peers. You can hear him express this in a number of different ways, and at first, this seems like a very appealing idea, and is intuitive. It’s motivational, it’s simple to understand.
I am probably only averagely talented, so if I work harder than anyone, I can succeed too!*