Hard Work Counts

I have just finished Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book Outliers.  An easy read and absolutely fascinating.  From a coaching perspective there were all kinds of tid bits in the book that I will trot out for use with clients moving forward.  The research about the effect of culture on how employees communicate with each other is riveting and I will comment on that further in future blogs.

One fact that I will not need with clients but may be useful with my kids is the evidence that explains why Asian children do so well in school in general and in math specifically.  The Asian culture was based for many hundreds of years on rice cultivation which is back breaking work that also requires constant planning, problem solving and vigilance.  Carelessness reduces yield. Because rice cultivation is so difficult landlords asked for a fixed rent price on land – therefore farmers got to keep anything they produced over their rent payment.  Essentially Rice cultivating cultures produce people who are accustomed to being in charge of their own success by working brutally hard.  Who knew?

When I met Scott Blanchard and we started Coaching.com he used to quote his Dad, Ken Blanchard: “To be successful you only have to work ½ a day – the first 12 hours or the second twelve hours”.  We laughed but it is true that putting in the hours is a large part of success.  The key is to make sure that your hard work is accomplishing something concrete that will help you achieve your goal.

We talk a lot about working smarter not harder – the evidence suggests that the key is to do both.

3 thoughts on “Hard Work Counts

  1. Coming from a Chinese ancestry, I was fascinated by the insight on math aptitude and rice cultivating cultures! I never stopped to think about that but it does make sense. I recently learned that Japanese educators are now researching and mimicking Indian math teaching methods, because Indians produce the strongest mathematicians, engineers, and scientists. So maybe Basmati rice growers get an extra edge!

    • My information comes from Gladwell’s book Outliers, but it is supported by evidence. Isnt it facinating. Wonder what the Indian edge is too!

  2. I read Blink and The Tipping Point, and now I’m going to tackle Outliers. Malcolm Gladwell is not only a brilliant writer, but he cleverly puts together research with amazing stories.

    It’s interesting that “hard work” tends to feel gratifying when we genuinely love what we do. Discipline and tenacity are probably learned traits, and coupled with a love of the work, result in a hard worker who feels great about it! I always cringe when I hear the term “workaholic.” I do work a lot, no question. And I’m learning more and more ways to work smarter. But bottom line is that I love what I do. I love my team. I draw my energy from being with them and doing my best to help us succeed together. That’s what floats my boat. So, I don’t feel like a “workaholic” at all. I just feel like a hard worker who is blessed to have the opportunity to do great work. I’m glad to finally hear that hard work might be OK after all and that I don’t have to wear the label “workaholic” any more if I don’t want to!

    What does everyone think about Gen Y and hard work? I think they work as hard as other generations. They just work differently than we do, so it may feel to older folks like they are not working as hard as prior generations. What do others think?

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