I’ve had a few conversations lately about what’s important in work. The discussions came back to how to use work as a growth opportunity.
This sent me looking for some articles to read and found a couple of pieces on the Psychology Today blog.
What did these pieces have to say about hard work?
- Hard work grows the mind
When you’re working hard – and let’s leave physical labour aside for this one – you’re also learning key skills. You’re developing confidence in solving problems and overcoming challenges. It’s no different than exercising our bodies, whether at work or at the gym. When you push your mind to solve harder problems, it responds and gets better at it.No, self-confidence isn’t just a product of loving parental support, it’s also developed through personal success in facing life’s difficulties. So to parents who feel good about taking care of life’s problems for their children, maybe it’s a good idea to let them struggle a bit, too.
- Work gives satisfaction
When you’re nailing it, and things are going along your way – or even if they’re not but you’re seeing real improvement – you feel satisfied. Have you ever sat down at the end of a long day of hard work, and thought “I deserve to treat myself to something.”Maybe the treat is something you could do any time you wanted – watch a movie, have a cold beer, or order pizza instead of cooking. The point is you feel better about treating yourself. It adds to your satisfaction.I’m borrowing the below quote, attributed to Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, Bhante Gunaratana, from the previous link. He’s known for his writings on mindfulness.
View all problems as challenges.
Look upon negativities that arise as opportunities to learn and to grow.
Don’t run from them, condemn yourself, or bury your burden in saintly silence.
You have a problem? Great.
More grist for the mill. Rejoice, dive in, and investigate.
- In time, hard work will look effortless
This one’s a bit more complicated. If you want to be an expert, or achieve excellence in a particular area, it takes a lot of work. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about it in Outliers. You don’t see successful people – regardless of the privilege they inherited – get there on sheer luck or natural talent alone. Everyone has to work hard to climb a mountain.Recalling the a friend’s description of her multi-day hike to Machu Picchu, and the porters that carried the gear up and down mountain passes seemingly effortlessly. They weren’t super human, they carried heavy packs up and down mountain passes so many times, they reached a point where they made it look effortless.And what are the benefits of reaching the point where it looks effortless? All I can say is, a study by Chia-Jung Tsay in the January 2016 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that experienced managers might be more interested in hiring you if you’re seen as a natural.You can read a bit more about that, summarized in this psychology today piece, titled Hard Work Is Good, But It Is Better to be Seen as a Natural.
Featured Image: Creative Commons License attribution to Ryan Hyde