Building a Business

Why I Don’t Believe in “Hard Work”

Look anywhere in our culture and you’ll see people promoting “hard work.”

There are so many variations of this story, such as:

  • If you just “work hard” you can reach your goals
  • “Hard work pays off”

It’s so ingrained in our culture at this point.

To be honest, I really never stopped to question it until the last couple of years.

I too believed that “you must work hard to be successful.”

But let’s take a step back.

What does “hard work” even mean? 

Here’s what Google says:

So, “hard work” = “a great deal of effort”

And look at that, right below the definition, it says: “it takes hard work to be successful in business.”

It’s ingrained in our culture so much that even a Google search spits it out.

But why does work have to be “hard” and why does it take “hard work” to be successful?

Why can’t work feel effortless?

That’s not to say it’s done without action.

And that’s a very important distinction. 

“Feel effortless” does not mean “without action.”

But here’s how I like to look at it:

When we are in flow, work — even when focusing on a complex or difficult task — can feel effortless.

It may take action, but when we are in flow, that action comes with ease. 

So why aim to “work hard?”

Why not aim to “be in flow and take inspired action?”

Because when you are in flow, the action feels effortless and tasks can be done with ease. 

(note: with ease is different than a task being simple/easy)

It feels amazing to work when you are inflow.

Whenever I’m inflow, even if I’m working on a super challenging problem, it doesn’t feel “hard.”

It feels like a very fun challenge to solve.

And now imagine all your work was like this.

Would you really call this “hard work?”

Or would you just call it “work?”

Or better yet, “playing?”

Decision Making

Everything is Made Up By People

The other day I Tweeted this.

It’s something I’ve been exploring for the past few years.

It started with an exploration of my emotions. When I was running my business, Jakt, I had massive swings in my emotional state. I worked with a coach that helped me explore these emotions and the stories I told myself.

It took many, many months of working together to really understand that the world is entirely made up. The stories we tell ourselves, the meaning we assign to things, etc. It’s all made up.

So how did I go from that to the Tweet above?

Well, over the past few months I’ve been diving into financial history to try and understand the world better and how we got here.

I still have much to learn, but one thing that has come to light for me is that the financial and social systems we have in place are also all made up.

Yet, when we are young we grow up with these systems, indoctrinated in them, and oftentimes don’t question them.

But if we look at history, these systems were not always there. Perhaps they have always been around in our lifetime, but not always. So while for us –in our lifetime– it may seem like they are normal or guaranteed to last, if we take a longer view of history, they are not.

New systems are created over time. And they are implemented to make people act a certain way and maintained to keep them acting a certain way. 

And who puts these systems in place? Those in power. Those with financial, economic, and political power.

We have to look at the motives of people and why they are doing things.

And we must question things.

  • Why does the prison system exist?
  • Why do children have to be in school from 8-3 pm every day?
  • Why do we have “weekdays” and “weekends”?
  • Why do we have a pension system?
  • Why do we have a “retirement” age?

Even something as simple as going to the grocery store. That is man-made. 

It’s something we created. 

Sure there are “reasons” why they were created, but the underlying truth: they were all made up.

By people.

Yes, people made all these things up.

And then push them out to society and make everyone believe it’s what is best for them.

But, is it really?

If you view the world from this lens, it starts opening up your mind and you might just notice virtually everything in our society is made up by people.

And because it’s all made up, it means we don’t HAVE to follow it.

Unfortunately, because we do live with some of these systems, we have to follow them to an extent. Unless we go totally off-grid, we’ll never really be free from them. And even then, are we? I’m not sure.

But given that we can’t get away from them, perhaps by opening up our eyes to it, we’ll realize we can change it. That said, the forces at play to keep systems in place are large. And powerful.

So maybe it’s not always about changing the system, but just playing a different game within it?

Entrepreneurs are one group that goes against the system in a way.

School teaches us to become good workers, not entrepreneurs. This is by design. 

Go to school, get a job, work for 30-40 years, retire, die.

That. Sounds. Awful. To me at least.

But it’s what is ingrained in us. Too many people going against this and perhaps systems would break.

But that’s just scratching the surface. Next time you do something, take a step back, and think about the systems in place that are completely man-made. 

I’ve found it to be quite powerful. 

Because once we realize it’s all made up, we can create and live in a different way. 

Sure, some systems are there, and we have to follow them. Because they are too strong and engrained. For example, in the past (and still in some states today), if we broke the “law” and had weed on us, we could go to jail for many, many years. It’s hard to go against that when you have an entire legal system that opposes this.

But here’s the twist — now it’s legal in many states. 

How is that possible? 

Simple. It was a completely made-up rule. 

Put in place to “protect” us, or whatever other excuse given to convince us it’s best for us, but what was the real motive? 

More often than not, with most systems, it’s to make us act, or not act, in a certain way. To benefit those creating the systems. 

That’s it. 

It’s not because it is “right” or “wrong” or what is truly best for us, yet that is what those in power will want you to believe.

Now, here’s the cool part. Once we start realizing that everything is man-made, it also means WE can question everything and be the creators ourselves.

We may have to play within the constraints of certain systems because they are so large and powerful, but within those, there’s a lot of room to be and act differently.

We don’t just have to follow everyone else’s creations.

I leave you with these questions:

  • What systems are you living in that you have never stopped to question? Why do they exist? Have you been blindly following them? Are they really what is “best” for you?
  • Given that it’s all made up and you can be a creator yourself, what will you create?
  • Will you forever be used by the systems created by others or will you try to understand how these systems and people work and create your own reality?

P.S. With this lens, I’ll throw this at you. Many people think Donald Trump is crazy. I actually think he just understands how the systems and people work, extremely well. More than people realize. He’s using the system and creating his own reality. Note, this is not an endorsement of him. Just an observation.

P.P.S This doesn’t just apply to systems, but also things like diamonds, wedding rings, etc. Marketing to influence behavior and actions is a related topic. Marketing is used to push ideas and systems out to people. Or to make you buy things. Or…. But I’ll leave that discussion for another day.

P.P.P.S As I finish writing this piece, I realize I’m still grappling with many unanswered questions myself. I’m on Step 1 — understanding (or, at least, trying to understand). Step 2 is what to do with that understanding. I’m still mulling it over myself, but I’ll keep reading, writing, thinking, and studying about it.