Growing up, I was always told by my parents and other elderly people that hard work pays off. In fact, it was so overrated that children are not permitted to use machines for tasks that they can perform manually. When preparing pounded yam, for example, you are expected to use a mortar and pestle (manually) even though there is a machine that can pound the yam for you in seconds (although such machines were not available in my time). You will be labeled as lazy if you use the machine. You must wash your clothes by hand rather than using a washing machine; only the lazy use a washing machine. Even if they can afford it, your parents will not buy one for you because they want you to be hardworking and not lazy.
In attempting to teach my children the value of hard work, a discussion between my daughter and me about working hard and working smart ensued, and I realized I had a lot to learn; it is not business as usual, and it is unlike my growing up days. Her conclusion was; “Mummy working smart is the new name for working hard and working smart is better than working hard any day and at any time”. She may be correct, but I still believe there is a place for hard work. I knew we had to revisit the subject soon, so I decided to do some research and prepare myself.
What exactly does it mean to work hard?
– It means getting out of your comfort zone and working consistently toward a specific goal, regardless of the hinges or discomfort you experience in the process. When you reach your goal, you can beat your chest and say, “Yes, I did it with my sweat.” Working hard requires commitment.
– It involves adhering to the rules of completing a task. This reminds me of a time when my brother-in-law came to visit and I made pounded yam for him in a matter of minutes because I used yam flour. He claimed it wasn’t authentic because I didn’t go through the boiling and pounding process.
– It means that when you work, you must feel it because you must use your strength and sweat.
What does it mean to work smart?
– It means that you must plan ahead of time and have a thorough understanding of the task at hand in order to devise a strategy for completing it efficiently and with minimal stress.
– It means you can complete the task as quickly as possible because you must use logic and innovation.
– It means that you can produce more with less effort because of your in-depth knowledge of the task; this qualifies you as an expert.
– It means you must work hard to develop the process that will make your job easier.
If I had to compare and contrast hard work and smart work, I would first look at the image above. The men pushing the square boxes may appear to be the hard workers, while the man pushing the round object appears to be working smartly, but a closer look at the man pushing the round object reveals what is going on behind him. The man pushing the circle object had already worked hard to cut the sides of the objects to achieve the round shape, making the push easier. This demonstrates that smart work cannot exist in the absence of hard work. There is no getting around hard work!
A lot of effort has gone into all of the facilities we use to make life easier and to give the impression that we are all working smart today.
A plant that will grow into a massive tree will take longer to develop its root system before sprouting from the ground. A shrub or small plant, on the other hand, requires little time because it does not require strong roots.
One piece of advice I gave my daughter was to learn how to do your work both manually (hard work) and with technology (smart work), because you never know where you will end up someday. This advice eventually paid off; she is now enrolled in a higher institution where gas cookers are not permitted, and she knows how to use the local kerosene stove because she had learned to work smart, using the ignite gas cooker, and hard, using the local kerosene stove.
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” – Tim Notke