395: Hard Work

A Thousand Things to Talk About
395: Hard Work

What do you see as “hard work”?

Show notes and links

Full episode script

Hard, as an adverb, is one of those vague and yet extraordinarily useful words in the English language. It’s a word with well over 75 synonyms, like difficult, challenging, complex, daunting, severe, tricky, taxing, laborious, and onerous. When applied to work — yet another vague and complex word, especially when the lines between hobbies and work can be so easily blurred, the debates get very, very interesting.

So interesting that today I’m going to quote extensively from two different Medium articles — one that makes a very strong argument about hard work, and a response to it.

The first comes from Jason Fried, who wrote in his article “If you’re reading this, you probably don’t do hard work”


“Rule of thumb: If it’s hard you’ll have trouble finding people who want to do it. There’s no shortage of people who want to be programmers, designers, strategists, etc… But try finding people to work the farm. Hard work is doing the work other people don’t want to do.

It may be challenging work. It may be creative work. It may be skilled work. It may require multiple tries to get it right. You may have to learn new things. You may be rejected a bunch. You may get hung up on. You may not know how to get from A to B. You may have to persuade. You may have to deal with people you don’t like. You may have to sell something someone doesn’t know they want. You may have to be creative.  But that’s the work. Not achieving the outcome you wanted doesn’t make it hard, it means you have more work to do. If you enjoy it most of the time, it’s probably not hard.

I get why people love calling their work hard. It feels good. It feels important. It makes you feel like you’re doing something that some other people would choose not to do. I absolutely get that.

But none of that makes it hard.

We all have work to do. Do good work. Do creative work. Do thoughtful work. Do your best. But there’s no need to flatter yourself about how hard it was.”

And then, from Christopher Connors’ response, quote:

“Hard work, I’ve come to believe through experience and research, is both what we physically exert and mentally, a state of mind. Here’s the point: No one gets to define hard work for anyone else. Just like success, you define hard work for yourself. Your definition of hard work should support your definition of success! This is my personal definition of hard work: Working intelligently and vigorously at a given task to complete it with maximum efficiency.

While there’s no comparison between the single mother working three jobs and the Fortune 500 software developer who configures technology platforms, this shouldn’t diminish the self-worth or value of someone’s output.”

I’m curious what you think. Find the discussion under musetopics on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Please note: This episode script may vary slightly from the actual episode transcript