Hard Work vs. Laziness Productivity Showdown by WisdomThought


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									Hard Work vs. Laziness Productivity
       "I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and
                                                                       behold, service was joy."

                                                                                     -Rabindranath Tagore

The hard work vs. laziness productivity blog showdown between myself and Fred Gratzon has begun
at Slacker Manager. Brendon Connelly first invited each of us to provide our own definitions of certain
terms: success, hard work, passion, happiness, laziness, productivity, work ethic, efficiency, and

It seems that the difference between Fred’s philosophy and mine goes beyond semantics. Perhaps
the key difference is how we define going with the flow of what Fred refers to as “Mother Nature.” He
explains that as physics itself always goes with the flow of nature and takes the path of least
resistance, then we humans will achieve the greatest success when we align ourselves with these
natural laws.

Fred’s response sounds beautiful. I’ve read many books that espouse a similar philosophy. But I
don’t adopt this philosophy as my own because in the long run I believe it will ultimately self-

Here’s why:

Where will going with the flow of nature take us? What will laziness get us? Do you actually know
where this path will lead? Not just us as individuals but all of humanity? Given the status of our
planet and the history of our world as we appear to understand it, where will this philosophy take us?

Where has it already lead most of the other species on our planet? Where did it lead the dinosaurs?

You see, if you want to accept the philosophy of going with the flow and living in accordance with
nature, then you must accept the whole package, which includes giving up control of your life to
natural processes outside your control. You must trust that the path of least resistance will lead you
somewhere good.

This is an easy (and very tempting) philosophy to adopt. And if you don’t mind becoming extinct,
then by all means go for it. But if you’ve fallen in love with humanity’s potential as I have, then
perhaps you’d prefer that we don’t drown in our own pollution and go the way of the dinosaur. Maybe
it’s worth the effort to keep this wonderful and creative species alive and see just how far we can go.

We humans are the only earth species to have left our planet. We visited the moon. Isn’t that
absolutely incredible? And we busted our butts to do it. Think about all we’ve accomplish as humans
and how hard many of us worked to achieve these goals. What we’ll accomplish over the next 100
years is astonishing to even contemplate. I for one am glad to live at this time in history, and I’m
grateful for all the hard work of previous humans to get us to this point.

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To me this is not a time in history to be lazy, complacent, and cowardly. Humanity has some big
challenges on the horizon. So let’s get busy and tackle them with our intelligence, our courage, and
our capacity to work hard. Stop bemoaning the existence of these challenges and wishing we could
all take the easy way out. If you want the easy way out, there are plenty of drugs to choose from.

I’d rather participate actively instead of passively letting life slip away. If that requires some effort
and hard work and facing down fears, then so be it. I’ll pay that price willingly. I won’t go to my
grave thinking of the people I might have helped but didn’t because I was too lazy and fearful to
make the effort.

Hard work is painful when life is devoid of purpose. But when you live for something greater than
yourself and the gratification of your own ego, then hard work becomes a labor of love. Who wants to
work hard for money? You want to dedicate your whole life to collecting smelly pieces of paper with
pictures of dead people on them? What kind of pathetic motivation is that? Of course you’ll cringe at
the thought of hard work if that’s all you care about. But there are so many more interesting things
to live for that make hard work worthwhile. And this requires getting out of your own little shell of
personal gripes and fears and taking a look at the rest of the world and asking yourself, “How can I

Next we tackle the following questions:

1) The money and the passion… You both seem to encourage paying less attention to how much
money you make, and pay more attention to what you’re passionate about. With that in mind, please
address the following:

a. What if your passion IS money?
b. What should I do if my passion requires money, and in order to make money, I need to work a
whole bunch of hours per week at a job I’m not passionate about, leaving no time for my passion?
c. Conversely, what should I do if I know that my passion is staying home with my family (or similar
non-paying passion), but doing that won’t pay the bills? How can I reconcile being away from my
family/passion in order to “just”• make money?

What can I say about Fred’s answers? I totally agree with him.
I think our answers are extremely congruent — we each addressed the questions on different levels
though. Fred tackled them on the level of belief and attitude, whereas I gave more “how to” answers.
We both agree that you shouldn’t remain stuck in a situation where you aren’t loving life.

Fred writes: “I don’t believe any passion is non-paying. You can always find a way.” I agree. Too
many people are held back by the limiting belief that you can’t make money doing what you love. But
I think that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable challenging that assumption until they can mentally
envision a safe path for themselves from where they are now to where they want to go. This is why I
outlined a decision-making process to help people understand exactly how to do that. Once you can
envision a path and believe it will work, then it’s a lot easier to drop limiting beliefs and get moving.
You don’t have to blindly dive into pursuing your passion and risk it all — that certainly works for
some people, but it’s very risky and has a high failure rate too. It will take some courage no matter
what path you take, but it doesn’t require a blind leap of faith in my opinion. I think it’s important to
consider how you’re going to pay your rent and support your family and whether you can actually

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make a living from your passion… before you make your move.
For example, when I wanted to transition to my new career in speaking and writing, I outlined a plan
to navigate the transition that would keep in balance my needs (like paying my mortgage), abilities
(do I have the talent and skills to pull this off?), passion (will I be doing what I love?), and
conscience (will I be contributing and making a meaningful difference in the world?). This included
cutting some of my expenses to keep my cashflow needs reasonable, keeping my old business
running on the side, and planning to build a new high-traffic web site with lots of free content and
eventually info products for sale; developing my speaking skills via Toastmasters and competing in
speech contests; spending the majority of my time doing work I love (like writing and speaking); and
doing work that I believed was truly helping people. It was easier to get moving when I could see on
paper just how this transition was going to work AND convinced myself that it would work. Even with
all this planning, it still took courage to commit to this transition and get started, and I certainly met
a lot of resistance from those who preferred to see me stay put, but I knew it was just a matter of
overcoming inertia until the momentum would carry me forward (as it’s doing now).

Fred and I both agree that passion is critical. If you overemphasize passion though, especially as you
make the transition to living with more passion, then you risk neglecting your needs, failing to
upgrade your skills, and building a career that’s devoid of meaning. And these factors will ultimately
degrade your passion if you don’t address them. Your passion will only magnify if you achieve
abundance instead of scarcity, if you become ever more skilled at doing what you love, and if you’re
making a meaningful contribution.

Lastly we address:

Working hard and setting limits…

a. Can a person work a maximum of 40 hours a week at something and still be successful?
b. Real-life story problem #1: I’ve recently graduated from university and launched into full time
work with the company I have been working part time with for the last 3 years. I love working there
and I get paid on an hourly rate so that the more hours I work, the more money I get. I like the idea
of working 40 hour weeks or less, so that I have more time to do my own things, but my boss is
encouraging me to treat those 40 hours as a minimum! Consequently, I find myself surrounded by
workers that work 60+ hours a week and myself working 50 hours a week or more. So I guess I’m
torn between working a 40 hour week and having more time to focus on other things in my life or
working 50+ hours a week and getting the extra money and industry experience. So should I work
more hours or less? Why? What other factors should I consider?
c. Real-life story problem #2: Extreme programming is a set of rules/mindsets/methods for
programming. On the one hand, several of those methods aim at keeping you as hard working and
productive as possible. On the other hand, the official “rules” almost forbid you to work more than 40
hours per week. So working as hard as you can for 8 hours, 5 days a week, but not more. This ‘d be
a nice statement to react upon for both of them.
d. Is a day’s work it’s own reward, or is there a way to change your perspective regarding mind-
numbing work so that it becomes fun?

In this case while we both agree on the importance of being well-rested and that fatigue kills
creativity, we each have a different way of describing how to actually work. Fred gives the example
of putting in short days, working from 10am to 4:30pm with a long family lunch in between. I
recommend a more cyclical approach of working hard with tremendous focus and then resting

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If I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to work very much, it’s a sign I’m tired or I’m feeling burnt out — it
means I’ve been “overtraining.” And in that case, I’ll take a day or two off with no work at all to rest
and recover completely. I’ll spend time sharpening the saw — reading, journaling, reflecting, revising
my goals, visualizing where I want to go. I’ll take a nap. I’ll read over some old feedback emails to
remind myself of what effect I’m having. I’ll ask those big “why” questions again until I absolutely
want to go back to work.

If you really love what you do, then what’s so painful about putting in a 8-hour day on it? When I’d
go to Disneyland, I’d want to go there from when the park opened until the park closed and pack in
as much fun in a day as I could muster. If work is play, then why not play hard and squeeze more
juice out of it?

Fred says, “I see a day’s work as a day’s punishment.”

To me that’s suggests you want the end result of what you’re trying to achieve, but you don’t enjoy
the path to get there. This comes from setting goals that focus too much on the end but not paying
enough attention to the means.

If I think “I have to work,” that’s a problem. For me it has to be, “I want to work.” After all, being an
entrepreneur I don’t actually have to work much at all to support myself, so if I don’t want to do it, I
won’t. But the desire to work, not the compulsion to work, is what got me out of bed at 5am this
morning, full of enthusiasm to get going on a fun new day. If you’re at Disneyland, are you going to
procrastinate on going on the rides? C’mon, this isn’t painful. Do you think I’m feeling stressed out
doing what I do — writing, working on speeches, improving my web site, communicating with people,
etc.? Where’s the pain? Where’s the stress? A day’s punishment? Why would I want to avoid this?
And yet, all of this is productive work for me — it contributes directly to my purpose. Punishment
would be forcibly keeping me away from it.

Getting work done through other people, as Fred suggests, is great. No argument there. That’s the
whole idea of leverage, and you’ll have a hard time getting anywhere financially if you don’t use
leverage. My favorite form of leverage is technology — it does the dirty work like processing and
filling orders through my game site and automatically depositing money into my bank account each
day. But no matter how much you leverage outside factors like people and technology and capital,
the ultimate form of leverage is still your own time. Time is the juice of life; if you aren’t living
passionately and loving what you do each day, to me that’s punishing yourself, and your
accomplishments won’t provide much fulfillment if you aren’t enjoying the journey. If you find the
path to your goal so painful that you feel you must minimize the time you spend on it, regardless of
how much you lust for the final destination, then you’re on the wrong path.

"Before you embark on any path ask the question, does this path have a heart? If the answer is no,
you will know it and then you must choose another path. The trouble is that nobody asks the
question. And when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart the path is ready
to kill him."

                                                                                         - Carlos Castaneda

So ask the question. Does your path have a heart? This is one of those questions where you will
know with certainty if the answer is yes. If you aren’t certain it’s a yes, then it’s a no.

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Don’t take the path without a heart, regardless of where you think it will lead you and how great it
will be when you finally arrive. Find another way to get there. I know it’s not easy to find a way to
make a great living doing what you love each and every day, but it’s a lot easier than the alternative.

                                                                                Wisdom Growth by Steve Pavlina

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