Industry: Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.— Benjamin Franklin
The modern versions of Benjamin Franklin’s virtue of industry are hard work and industriousness.
On the surface, hard work and industriousness do not seem like a lot of fun.
Who actually likes to work?
And who actually wants to work hard?
But if you think about it, being able to practice hard work and industriousness at will is a huge competitive advantage.
It’s difficult, it isn’t popular, and other people would rather take the easy and often less effective path.
Let’s see how we can practice the virtues of hard work and industriousness without burning up all of our willpower.
Defining Hard Work and Industriousness
Exactly what constitutes “hard work” differs from person to person.
Here is my definition:
- You have things to do, preferably things related to your purpose.
- You make a reasonable effort at doing them and actually try to get them done.
- You get some of them done, you don’t get some of them done.
- You focus on the effort and process, not the outcome.
Hard work and industriousness sit nicely alongside the virtues of 10x and taking right action.
Working hard and being industrious implies that you are doing things that take courage and boldness. You are taking the shot where others will not, and doing things that other people may consider difficult.
It is absolutely possible to outwork others, but we want to do it intelligently.
As I said in Don’t Be Lazy:
- You have to work 10x harder than everyone else.
- You don’t get to take (all) weekend off.
- You don’t get to sit back and binge on Netflix.
- You don’t get to play video games.
- You don’t even get to have craft beers with your buddies.
The Importance of Hard Work
Imagine yourself a year from now.
You’re doing a review and looking back on your projects and life, what you have done, what worked out, and what didn’t work out.
Do you really want “lack of effort” to be the reason you didn’t accomplish something?
If you have done the best you can, that’s one thing.
But if you were lazy and did not put in the effort, that’s much, much worse.
The number one reason that hard work and industry are important, is because you never want a lack of effort to be your reason for failure.
Practicing hard work and industriousness helps you beat back laziness. You need to work both hard, and smart.
People in today’s world are generally lazy.
In fact, I garner that most of them are too lazy to even define what laziness means to them.
Simply being willing to put in the work puts you a class ahead, which is a huge competitive advantage.
People are lazy because we live in a culture that glorifies hacks, shortcuts, gaming the system and using street smarts.
This is because people are not willing to put in the work or the reps.
Yes, there is a place in life for hacks and being smart.
If you see smartcuts, take them.
But taking them doesn’t mean you get to skip the work.1I sometimes get asked by male friends why I work out religiously and eat strictly and if it wouldn’t be easier to just use steroids. I tell them that I have nothing against steroids from an ethical standpoint, but that even if I were to use them, I would still have to eat properly and work out hard to make the most of them.
How to Live Industriousness and Hard Work Daily
The simplest way to live with industry is to move from the time you wake up until the time you fall asleep.
Keep yourself busy, not just to keep busy, but with actual outcomes and progress in mind.
There should not be moments in the day when you sit there and say “I have nothing to do now”.2Unless you have mandated downtime or play scheduled in.
You may think, “what do I do now?” and refer to your outcomes for the day, but you should not be sitting still.
Remind yourself that hard work is something you have chosen about the way you live your life, so you have no right to complain about it.
At the end of the day, you simply ask yourself:
“Have I worked hard and been industrious today?”
A System for Hard Work and Industriousness
1. Define what hard work means to you
We systemise hard work and industriousness by first defining what they mean to us.
Hard work is about having a fair go and effort at the tasks you set for yourself daily.
You may not get to all of them. You may not complete all of them.
But you can confidently say that you made an effort, and hold yourself accountable to not having wasted time on other things during the day.
2. Work hard on the right things
We want to work hard and work smart.
As much as possible, we want to work on things that line up with our purpose — because that way we know we are not wasting time.
3. Industriousness is a virtue, but it is also a habit
Industriousness and hard work are virtues, but they are also habits.
The more you practice them, the easier they become.
And thankfully, hard work is a habit with a fairly linear adoption rate, much like exercising or going to the gym.
You don’t need to hack hard work to make it work — you just need to start doing it, and it will grow like a muscle does.
Over time, your identity and beliefs will shift. You’ll go from “just normal” to one of those people who “just gets things done”.
Taking Hard Work to the Next Level
Once you’ve established hard work and industriousness as virtues and habits, you can take them to the next level.
This is done by challenging yourself to do more than you think is possible.
A couple of years ago I hit a point where I had everything optimised — time, productivity and processes. And yet, because of the demands of my job at the time, it didn’t seem enough.
So I challenged myself and asked:
How do I take this to the next level?
And in answering that question, I really surprised myself by being able to increase my hard work capacity even more.3For those interested: It involved cleverly rearranging and batching my schedule so that I had even more hours for productive work.
Simply asking the same question will get your mind flowing and you will be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll be able to do.
What To Do Next
Lose no time. Always do something useful. Work hard, and be industrious.
- I sometimes get asked by male friends why I work out religiously and eat strictly and if it wouldn’t be easier to just use steroids. I tell them that I have nothing against steroids from an ethical standpoint, but that even if I were to use them, I would still have to eat properly and work out hard to make the most of them.
- Unless you have mandated downtime or play scheduled in.
- For those interested: It involved cleverly rearranging and batching my schedule so that I had even more hours for productive work.
Photos by Andrew Malone, Photoholgic, Thought Catalog, Patrick Hendry.