Growing up on a dairy farm, hard work is literally part of my DNA. Early on in my entrepreneurial journey when I’d go home and complain about my 80 hour week, my dad reminded me he did that by Thursday.
As a kid, I’d often remind him my game was working smarter, not harder…at which point he would just shake his head and walk away. What I know now, it is about working smarter AND harder.
Often times working smarter doesn’t look like work at all. For me, it often looks like sitting in spacing out staring out the window. It looks like going for a run early in the morning. It looks like reading a book or listening to a podcast. It may not look like work, but that’s when I’m getting my best work thinking done, because big ideas don’t need time, they need space.
Some problems, challenges, and opportunities do need to be powered through with brute force, but more often than not, many of them can be thought through or prevented in the first place with a creatively developed smart solution. A stitch in time saves nine.
Thinking hard is about creating the mental space to see things others are blind to, to hear things others are deaf to, to notice things others are missing. Just along the periphery of mainstream ideas, the future is already here hiding in plain sight, it’s just not apparent to those not looking for it. The next big innovation is just sitting there waiting. Waiting for someone to come ask for this dance.
Will you be the one to take notice or will you be too busy with your nose too close to the grindstone working hard as opportunity passes you by, moving on to your competitor?
Or will you build in the time, discipline, and space to think as hard as you work? To notice, to connect, to turn opportunity into reality.
As the leader of your organization, the choice is yours.