Yesterday I was on Facebook, and a very successful fellow entrepreneur posted something that shocked me. It was on a discussion of feelings of entitlement in society, and how many people have an undeserved “feeling of superiority” to their peers – especially in Gen Y.
To paraphrase the response:
I feel superior to my Gen Y counterparts because I work harder than they do. I have worked 100 hour weeks, consistently, and that’s what’s led to my success.
It took me aback to have this otherwise very smart and successful entrepreneur espousing such a simplistic formula for “success.”
I’ve seen plenty of entrepreneurs who “work 100 hour weeks” who don’t have anywhere near the kind of success this person has had in her business. I was one of them. Back when I had my bike shop, I was driving myself into the ground, working 100+ hour weeks between my day job as a faculty member and the “side job” of running that bike shop.
What happened when I did that?
I made lots of poor decisions – decisions that cost us 10’s of thousands of dollars.
I rushed into things, because I always felt “behind” and “hurried.” That made the bad decisions worse.
I pressured employees and my business partner (who was also a family member). The relationship became strained and she became supremely unhappy with the business. She started self-sabotoging success, by making really bad choices.
After doing all that, I eventually burned out. I just got sick of that way of being, and resented that bike shop for “doing it to me.” It wasn’t long after the resentment crept in that the business started going downhill – fast.
That “hard work” wasn’t a recipe for success. It was a recipe for disaster. I still am paying off the loans from that failed bike shop (even though I’ve been very successful with my new business that was founded from the ashes of the bike shop).
Look – if you just think that “hard work” is all it takes, then I suggest you go out and get a job digging ditches. There will be plenty of hard work for you – as much as you could possibly want.
I’m not saying that entrepreneurs should never “work hard.” There are times you’re going to have to do that. There are times in a business when you have to give birth to a new project – a campaign, a product, a book, or whatever. When you’re giving birth to something big, you will have to put in some long hours.
But the key lies in what you do after you’ve given birth to that big thing. Do you relax and recuperate (like a mother does after giving birth to her baby?) Or do you jump right back in to hard work, thinking that if you don’t do that, then you’re going to fall behind?
There’s a big difference between episodic “hard work” and chronic “hard work.”
Episodic hard work – if directed with clarity and good decisions – can yield incredible fruits. (I’ve built a multi-multi-six figure business very quickly with that kind of work).
Chronic hard work, while it may yield fruit short term, over the long term only yields stress, ill-health, and burnout.
Do not follow the advice of those who would tell you that to succeed you must work 100 hour weeks (chronically). It’s counter productive.
My own situation is proof: just contrast the failed bike shop where I regularly worked 100 hour weeks, versus my present business where the 100 hour weeks have only happened sporadically, followed by recovery periods.
My present business is more fun, more successful, and having a greater impact on the world.
All because I have a lot more clarity about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. That clarity doesn’t come from being overworked and overstressed.
If you want more help – if you feel chronically overwhelmed, stressed, or exhausted – then I’ve got some good stuff coming to help you. I’ll be making a series of brand new videos on über-productivity for you. Just sign up for my newsletter (below) and I’ll let you know when they’re ready.
ps – if you want to read a related blog post I wrote on this topic for scientists, you can check it out on my morganonscience.com blog. I have some specific pointers there that you should find immediately helpful.