Which part of the title interested you most — working less? More money? Or both? Most people I know like both equally. You know the get-rich fantasy images — the boat, the car, the big house, the life of leisure. It looks so easy.
So, let me tell you the truth about working less and making more money. It is fool’s gold.
I have been fortunate enough to be the CEO of three companies, and the last two were acquired by public companies. I know a bit about working hard and doing well. Believe me, I understand desiring good things and wanting to give your family the world.
The problem is that working less and expecting more is for gamblers and the delusional. There are no hidden paths to greatness. Unless you want to bet on the lottery and the odds that come with it.
It is always tempting to latch onto an idea that proposes to make your life better, especially if it means you get to toil less. In fact, everyone I know would like to free up more hours in the day to get more things that they enjoy done. But the reality is that however you define rich, it is going to take a massive effort to achieve it.
Success does not grow on trees.
I think this concept of working less and achieving more has clouded our thinking as technology has helped us be more productive. We are told that it is a natural evolution and so easy. It has been further built up through the popular concept of “work smarter, not harder.” I have often wondered where that phrase came from, so I looked it up.
The first use of the phrase was by a work simplification expert back in the 1930s. We can also thank the Internet for helping this bogus advice spread like a virus.
Here is why that phrase and the concept of working less to gain wealth is hurting you and damaging our work culture.
Smarts is where you start
I do not have an issue with “working smarter.” Of course you should continue to gain efficiency through repetition and wisdom. You should always spend your time on what matters, and not get distracted by answering emails and attending needless meetings. This is required for any success, but without effort gets you nowhere.
Work is not a four-letter word
My bigger problem is the second part of the mantra, the one that suggests that we do not have to work harder. Underlying this phrase are some skewed assumptions about the nature of work. This phrase supports the idea that hard work is drudgery, and our main goal in life should be working less and making more time for leisure. But I think that is all wrong.
There are no shortcuts to working really hard, no easy path to achieving your goals and accumulating wealth. Get-rich schemes may give you more money for a time, but they will not bring you lasting gains or happiness. Hard work, on the other hand, will play a big part and never can be taken away.
Work is an important part of life. It’s a shame that it has gotten a bad rap lately. If you figure out the right type of work for you, then it does not feel like drudgery. It defines you — and you love it.
If working less is your goal, then I suggest that you should lower your expectations for what you want to achieve. If you want a chance at being wildly successful, you need to work smarter AND harder than everyone else. That’s the truth.
Work is good, and if you want to get rich, you had better want to keep doing more of it.