The 365 Commitment

Define Hard Work

Do you know what hard work really is? How do you define it?

I talked with someone recently who was complaining about how hard they were working. This was funny, because before I talked to the person I was convinced that they were hardly working at all. So why is it that the person had the view that they were working really hard and I had the opposite view?

I think there are two reasons. The second reason is that they are probably working hard on something that is not important to me or not visible to me. The first reason, which is usually the culprit, is that they have a different definition of what hard work really is. They define and also measure work differently.

I learned this from a very early age when my grandfather had me carrying hay bales to the back of his trailer in his alfalfa fields. He measured work by the number of bales stacked for sale at the end of the day. I measured work by the number of hours until lunch. So to me I was working hard, just because I was outside in the sun for 4 hours. That was exhausting work. My grandfather was measuring work by how many bales that I could lift up and throw onto the trailer. I thought I was working hard, he thought I was hardly working. I remember him walking through the math one day. I am making about 1.19 per bale after expenses. You are costing me 5 per hour. So if you are only able to carry 5 bales to the trailer per hour then we are really not making much money here. I could only respond with, when is lunch?

So how do you measure and define work? How do you know you are really working hard? This morning I was running around the block several times. I have a wrist watch that tells me what my heart rate is. I ran 2 miles at a easy pace and I watched my heart rate. It was less than 115 bpm. I then ran the next 4 miles at 150 bpm. Now, that was hard work. The first 2 miles, I was just coasting. The 4 miles was hard work. In fact I know when I am working hard when I am running. When my heart rate is above 150 bpm. Too bad life is not that easy right? Maybe it is.

You see I know that I am working hard while I am running at 150 bpm. This is hard work. I am breathing hard, I am sweating, I want to quit, I feel like I am going to die. So when I look at other work I have to do, am I willing to put the same amount of effort in that it takes to run at 150 bpm. Am I that uncomfortable?

You see, I think this is what happens. We start to feel slightly uncomfortable and then we exclaim, oh my, I am working hard. Then we quit quickly. What should happen, is that we feel uncomfortable and that is a sign that we are starting to work at the right high performance level. I need to sustain that level of effort for as long as I can. That is hard work.

Guy Reams

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