Working Hard vs. Working Smart - Caleb Jones

A few weeks back I talked about how success doesn’t take as much work as many people think. That brings up the question: Should you work hard or work smart? Which is better?

What about working smarter? As I’ve talked about before, despite the fact that I’m a reasonably smart guy, the business world and the internet are filled with men who are much smarter than me but who make far less money than I do.

When I was an I.T. consultant, my city was filled with other I.T. consultants who were far smarter than me, had many more years experience than me, and had more technical knowledge than me. These guys were really, really smart. They worked smart.

Yet, I made double, and in some cases, triple what they made, providing the exact same service to the exact same market.

My blogs regularly attract intelligent men. It’s not unusual to see a man post a comment who clearly has an equivalent or higher I.Q. than I do, and often more formal education too. (I never went to college, by choice.)

I also see other blogs, forums, and social media filled with very smart guys, guys who I’m sure are smarter than me. These guys work smart…

…yet most of these guys have never made more than $30,000 a year and probably never will. And here I am, making a healthy six-figure income, and doing so all the way back to when I was 27.

In the business world, I regularly encounter really smart business owners with really good, creative, and smart ideas to get rich or grow their businesses. They work smart. Yet most of these guys never seem to actually make the money they want. A few do, but most do not.

So I don’t think working smart is the answer.

Working hard must be the answer then, right?

Well, I work pretty hard, that’s true. I work seven days a week. It’s never a full “eight hour day,” but I work hard in that I work relentlessly in pursuit of my goals. I always have, and I will never retire, since I like to work.

Yet, I see plenty of Mexican landscape workers mowing lawns in the blazing heat ten hours a day, or Mexican or Filipino housekeepers who work for hotels cleaning toilets all day long, or people who work at call centers, on the phone literally all day long with a 30 minute lunch and two 15 minute breaks.

These people work way, WAY harder than me. Seriously, it’s not even close. These people are busting their asses eight, nine, ten hours a day, working very hard, doing extremely difficult work. The guy who mows my lawn works much harder than me in ways where I almost feel sorry for him. (Almost.)

When it comes to working hard, all of these people easily kick my ass. Yet I earn in one or two months what a lot of these people earn in an entire year.

So no, working hard isn’t the answer either.

What is the answer then?

It’s pretty easy. The answer is that you need to do both.

I’m successful because I work smart and I work hard. I don’t do one or the other. I don’t even do one or the other to an amazing degree (since as you can see above, there are millions of people in the world who beat me in both categories yet make far less money than I do). But I do work both hard and smart, at the same time, together, always. I never work hard without first making sure I work smart. Then I work hard.

I don’t work hard at something that I know won’t make me a lot of money either now or in the long-term. That’s stupid.

I also don’t sit around and think about stuff, read about stuff, research stuff, debate with people on the internet, but never actually get off my ass and execute my smart ideas. That’s lazy.

Instead, I do both. I research, think, plan, and then I get off my ass and work very hard at executing my plan, and I don’t stop working hard until my plan is done, even if it takes a few years. I work hard and smart, both, always.

This system not only works, but works in ways that will amaze you. I am successful in ways far beyond what I planned when I first sat down and set some lofty goals for my life at age 18. This is what working hard and smart does.

You can do it too. If you want it badly enough.

12 Comments on “Working Hard vs. Working Smart

  1. Your totally right. I think the main factor betweem successful people and the rest of the population is simply action, which falls into the hard work category. Everyone has thought of starting their own business or going back to school etc…. but what seperates the truly successful folks are those that execute the plan.

     

    I have started 2 medical clinics, both required a significant amount of work during the start up phase, but like you said, my landscaper or that waiter from last night works far harder than I do… work smart and hard.

  2. >> I never work hard without first making sure I work smart. Then I work hard.

    This is exactly what I do. in fact, I might have some kind of fuse on my brain that prevents me from working hard if my gut tells me I’m not working smart.

    That’s why I’ve always dreaded corporate jobs where I might be assigned to do some hard work that has no purpose. My mind rejects it. It feels I’m wasting my time, energy and focus.

    But when I see I get a good ROI on my time, energy and focus, then I can work hard as hell. Pulling all-nighters, pushing to my very edge to achieve the results I want.

    In one article you mentioned how to fix or improve a system, and it was about unblocking one bottleneck at a time. When I find myself at a plateau in a project (for instance, I’m right now stuck in a dip at my personal development business) I don’t double down on the effort. In fact, I do less of what I was doing up to that point, and start investigating and testing new stuff to get out of the plateau.

    Death by self-discipline. There’s such a thing as overworking yourself to bankruptcy.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. Internet has given rise to lot of hacks and tips and tricks which kind of help (in a way). However, knowing is only half of the equation. It’s only potential power. Smart & Hard Work always wins the game.

  4. Several years ago I went to visit the Great Wall of China. I went to a part that is mostly visited by Chinese rather than tourists called Mutianyu. FWIW, any person who does not visit the Great Wall in their lifetime is truly missing out on a spectacular testimony to the capability of mankind both to work and to enslave. It is a spectacular thing to see.

    As you drive there from Beijing you pass through small Chinese villages and rural China, parts of China that the government would rather you didn’t see. There you will see real poverty, poverty that puts to shame the fools in America who claim they are poor because they only have a big screen TV and not a 4k TV. One particular memory I have is of a woman who looked in her fifties but was probably in her thirties, pulling an ox cart herself, as if she was a beast of burden.

    Now that, my friends, is hard work.

    Working smart, as it is generally used, I don’t think necessarily means “with great intelligence”. I think it normally means “with careful choices as to what to do and what not to do.” I think we all suffer from what we software people call NIH — not invented here. The idea that we alone can do a good job, and so, if we want it done right we have to do it ourselves. This is especially true of Alpha type people. But success is recognizing opportunity cost. If you spend time learning HTML to build your own web site, it is time you are not selling to make more money, or excelling in the special value you offer. Time that is bought back cheaply by sending the HTML work to some guy in India for $10 per hour. Upwork.com is the greatest productivity booster in the world. Which is better — to struggle for an hour with your expense report or to send  the receipts to some gal in the Philippines who will do it for you for $5, and you spend that hour calling for new business?

    To me, working smart rather than working hard, means working on the things that generate the most value per hour (and consequently the most dollars per hour) and getting someone else to do the rest.

    Alphas tend to be control freaks, and so that can be damned hard. People, from individuals to mighty businesses make that mistake all the time.

     

  5. I work seven days a week. It’s never a full “eight hour day,” but I work hard in that I work relentlessly in pursuit of my goals.

    Do you use a timer while you work Caleb, like the Pomodoro Technique?

    How many hours is the minimum you’d work in a standard day where you’d feel satisfied?

  6. Do you use a timer while you work Caleb

    Always. I use an app on my phone. I time every different type of work I do, every day, and track it all.

    How many hours is the minimum you’d work in a standard day where you’d feel satisfied?

    It’s not number of hours; it’s whether or not the things needed for my goals are getting done. If that means 2 hours a day, great. If that means 5 hours a day, great.

    I can’t point at anyone and tell them how many hours they need to work. I’d have to know their goals and plans in great detail first.

    I have pretty big goals, so I work 7 days a week, at least 1.5 hours per day but usually more than that on most days.

  7. I find that most people are too wedded to their victim mentality to ever achieve working harder or smarter.  They always have some kind of  invented “”problem”” that is holding them back from realizing much potential.

    Some people do have real impediments to success.  But most people just can’t get past holding on to victimhood.

  8. people who work at call centers, on the phone literally all day long with a 30 minute lunch and two 15 minute breaks.

    I remember having those kinds of jobs. I’m glad I got out when I can, those kinds of jobs will take more years off of your life than ANY drug haha.

    I find that most people are too wedded to their victim mentality to ever achieve working harder or smarter.  They always have some kind of  invented “”problem”” that is holding them back from realizing much potential.

    I agree, being a victim has pretty much become a new religion now. Even in the “red pill manosphere” world, people enjoy acting like victims. Its partially because the internet has created so many hive minds of people who are willing to get together and complain about and attack stuff and like pornography, it gives them a very cheap high that is disturbingly easy to get. I mean, go on any of the more popular “manosphere” places like Return of Kings, Roosh’s board, and even The Rational Male. All you see there are people blaming chicks and progressive minded people for their lack of success, just like if you get on tumblr or Atheism+ you’ll see people blaming white men and right wingers for their lack of success. Its become a religion.

    So why not just blame yourself? When you blame yourself that’s just as big a waste of energy because blaming yourself for stuff is dumb. I think its hilarious when people say “I can’t forgive myself.” I go “really? If you hate yourself that much, just cut yourself or something so you can at least get a rush.” What makes people like Caleb so successful is that he doesn’t blame anyone or anything, he just does his thing. No real emotions, no wrestling with if he is doing something right or wrong, no “I must save the world from ____!!” Just tracking stuff and action. I wish I could be a fraction as productive as him. I’ll never understand how he does it. But one day I will, everything will click, and pretty much overnight I’ll be stupid productive and make tons of money with very little effort. That’s my prediction.

    The other thing that holds people back is that there is WAY too much information about stuff out there and it can overwhelm a person. This has been happening to me in my pursuit of location independent income. Its gotten so bad that I’ll get so overwhelmed that I’ll just be paralyzed about it. Its a dumb habit that holds me back quite a bit.

  9. getting consistent with how you do it would be great. particuarly in and outside of work.

  10. This post made me think about a post I read on reddit a few days ago.

    In the thread a guy ask for anecdotes of people that made radical swifts in their careers.

    One of the stories that catched most of my attention was this one of a dude who worked as a mechanic repairing cars (he actually liked that job and was good at it), at the age of 29 this guys have an accident working, hurting his back really bad. So doctor tell him that if he continues working like that he will end in a wheelchair soon.

    That is when the guy start working in random shit as a freelancer (without getting much pay, more for the experience) and now he work online full time with less streess for foreign company. He ends the post saying “I thought that the only way to progress in life was breaking my back working, it was exactly the opposite”

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