Hard Work Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be


When people ask you how things are going, is “We’re working hard!” your default response? If you want to be productive and succeed sooner, take another approach.

  • When you describe how you work, replace the word “hard” with the word “diligent.”
  • Take the time to consider if you truly are working diligently, deliberately and consistently taking the best next step.
  • Work diligently. Determine the most effective thing for you to be working on now. Consider the next most important action your team needs to work on. And then, take action to do it.

Related: Advisors: Don’t Do This, Especially in the Dark


Hard work isn’t all, it’s cracked up to be.

“Woah, wait a minute! You mean you’re disagreeing with hard work?” To a certain extent, yes—especially the way that I hear it mentioned. When I talk with advisors, they’ll often tell me they’re “working hard,” they’re doing a lot of “hard work” in certain areas. . .

Oftentimes it can even become our default response: “How are things going?” “We’re working hard!”

I want to encourage you to drop using the word “hard” and replace it with the word “diligently.” “We’re working diligently.” “I’m working diligently.” When you use the word “diligently,” it makes you stop for a split second and evaluate just how effective your actions really are. How helpful, how productive are you really being?

When we say we’re “working hard,” we throw that word “hard” out so tritely that we really don’t give it thought. But when somebody asks, “How are things going?” and you respond, “We’re working diligently,” you’ve got to stop and think about that. After all, we all know of people who have worked really hard but worked at the wrong things really thoroughly and gotten nowhere.

I used to swim with athletes who had way more talent than I ever had, and some of them even worked hard, but they didn’t work diligently. They worked hard, but at the wrong things. They worked hard but didn’t prioritize correctly, and much of their effort and time was just wasted. Whereas working diligently made sure that we focused on the right things that needed to happen. We determined the right next step and did that. When you’re focused on working diligently, the priorities you need to complete immediately rose to the top.

So I would encourage you to drop the word “hard” when you’re describing how you’re working and replace it with the word “diligently.” To do this,

  1. do it. Stop saying you’re working “hard” work, and instead say you’re working “diligently” or putting out a lot of “diligent” effort.

  2. give it time. It takes time to replace an old habit with a new way. Consciously pull yourself up and think instead of defaulting to using the word “hard” to describe how you’re working. Consider, is what you are doing diligent? Are the actions you’re taking as best as they could be? Are you consistently doing the best thing next?

  3. repond. Actually respond diligently. Think, “What’s the most effective thing I need to do next?”, “What is the next most important action our team needs to work on?” And then away you go to take action.

Replace working hard with working diligently. You’ll be far more effective and hold yourself to a far higher standard of accountability, and, therefore, chances are you’ll succeed even sooner.

I look forward to bringing you another Distraction-Proof Advisor Idea next week.