The Myth of Endurance and Why It’s Devastating for Your Career
When did it become accepted that anything worth doing must be difficult? As Newton said, “There is no substitute for hard work.” But when did we decide that the things that come easy have less value?
We know about paying our dues, putting in the hard time and soldiering on. What we’ve forgotten is that the work that comes naturally can be infinitely more valuable that the work that’s accomplished with blood, sweat and tears.
A lot of businesses burn out their employees by demanding 70- or 80-hour weeks. The result is a long-term decline in morale, which is all-around bad for business: bad for productivity and bad for revenue.
We’re long overdue for a change in our thinking. Maybe you don’t have to bend over backward and be sick and sore when all the hard work is done. Maybe it’s time to let go of the myth of endurance. Blind endurance and excessive working hours are the recipe for burnout, and as Fortune Magazine reported earlier this year, “it’s a quick jaunt from burnout to apathy.” So forget about no pain, no gain.
The modern entrepreneur has a secret. She knows about following her passion and doing what feels right. She has learned that delegating unwanted tasks creates space in her life to do the real work. The soul work. The work that makes her want to jump in the air and say, “Yes!”
It’s that spirit you need to harness. When your job is easy, the work will start to flow. Productivity will skyrocket. Bigger projects will suddenly seem more manageable. Balance sheets will get all green where there used to be nothing but red.
There are two types of easy. There’s work that is completed with ease, with passion and devotion, and then there’s work that is cheap or finished on the fly. It’s the former that’s really going to light your fire.
Modern businesses are waking up to this new way of thinking
At 37Signals, for example, employees downgrade to a four-day work week in the summertime. What CEO Jason Fried recognizes is that rapid, short-term growth built on late nights and way too much caffeine is simply not sustainable.
37Signals works on a model of quality over quantity. They offer fewer products with fewer bells and whistles. Their focus is not to sell a high volume of mediocre products, but rather to sell a select number of completely awesome programs to a select number of completely awesome people. Anyone who’s ever used Basecamp understands instinctively why this company does not need to advertise.
The endurance model is not a model that leads to that kind of product. The sustainability of that model relies on a well-defined, repetitive workload with little room for creativity.
The problem is, rates of productivity slow if a task is arduous or repetitive. When the task is inspired, you work from a place of clarity and understanding. What’s more is, you inspire your colleagues to do the same. Your workload becomes manageable. When you come to a place of ease, the hours fly by. Jobs get done like magic.
Work colleagues will pick up on that energy. That’s because enthusiasm is contagious. They, too, will be inspired to do work with that same natural ease. That combined spirit of enthusiasm is what gives birth to those big, core-shaking ideas that change businesses forever.
When you’re enthusiastic about what needs to be done, nothing seems like hard work. You’re in the zone. You’re awake.
What does it mean to be awakened?
In three words, it is acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm. Those who are awakened get the job done. They do what must be done, and they do it willingly. Because they enjoy the task at hand, they accomplish it with full presence of mind at the maximum level of productivity.
It’s like rubbing a magic lamp. Enthusiasm is what gives birth to your true genius.
Amy Knapp is an enthusiastic business blogger for InsideTrak, the hottest new job search site in Australia.
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