Yesterday I listened to this beautiful podcast between Naval Ravikant and Kapil Gupta on how we have romanticized hard work and how in general it is wrong advice to give. It does sound counterintuitive but I would suggest you read on further to understand more.
Hard Work means Success?
Over time the general narrative for achieving success has always been around working hard to achieve success. But this advice is so generic that one does not even stop to thinks if this is really true and if it is true why does everyone who is working hard not successful. This has become a universally accepted statement which not many understand but is widely accepted as good advice. But I really liked Kapil’s take on this when he says hard work has become like a game people are working hard for the sake of it. We have become very prescriptive about it. The society, in general, has romanticized this concept of hard work so much so that the effort itself becomes the goal. The question which one has to ponder is why is it that some people succeed in what they set out to do and some don’t despite putting in the effort. If we look around we find many folks who work really hard e.g. a small roadside food stall gets up early in the morning to be ready for business and works hard till 11:30 pm. Why is he less successful to another person who is working less but is more successful. The whole picture of being successful is not complete if one considers hard work alone.
Desire and Talent
Kapil talks about the fact that people become successful only if they have a deep desire to acquire something. Once they have a deep desire to achieve something then the work which they will do will not seem like work. The deep desire to achieve what they aspire/ desire will ensure that they are working consistently to achieve success. This is the reason why a person who is working hard but may not be as successful. They may have got used to the hard work but don’t seem to have a bigger purpose to achieve. This means that they will not strive to improve themselves on a daily basis and this is what stops people working hard from becoming super successful, thus a desire or purpose is needed to make one successful.
“In a billion dollar company, the employees aren’t working any harder than people in a million dollar company. They’re just doing the right things.” – Naval Ravikanth
The second aspect which leads to success is the talent which one possesses. Each individual has certain talents where they are masters, so much so that what feels like work for others feels like a play for some. This leads to superior outcomes because the mind is not getting bogged down to do things which it does not want to. As an example, every professional athlete on top of their game would have worked the same amount of hours in practice but then the No.1 person has that edge because of which they are super successful! This is the talent which the person possesses and this has a major impact on the final outcome.
Thus it is the desire/ambition coupled with talent which makes one successful. Thus one has to find what one is good at and then work hard on it.
To the experts, what looks like hard work from the outside, is play from the inside” – Naval Ravikanth
Success Mantra Advice?
Given what we have learned I think it is time we had a hard relook at the advice of working hard. The generic prescriptive approach needs to be replaced by helping the person see what he/she is good at. After 25 years of age, my sense is that most folks would have a sense of the things where they are really good at and where their desires lie. The best way to do this is to observe what things or skills where you are able to do it easily and others find it hard. These are things where they are unbeatable. So before advising a person on working hard, one has to help them see their own desires and ambitions to ensure that they are clearly aligned with one’s abilities. Once these are aligned the advice of working hard towards ones desire will result in supernatural outcomes. Let’s pledge to spend time with people to help them align their desires/ambitions along with their talents before we begin to dole out the advice of ‘Work Hard’!
PS: Would still advice to listen to the podcast <The truth about success> as I am only writing my takeaways from it and you could find more insights.