Why This Old-Fashioned Virtue Can Lift You Out of the Recession and Propel You to the Top.
There’s never been a tougher time to be a part of the job market.
And while people are scrambling to show employers they have what it takes,
the secret to success may be simpler than you thought.
by Jon Gordon
If you’re like most people, you probably spent the past year fretting. Maybe you spent so much time worrying about what could happen that you lost sight of the plans you had all along. It’s easy to get complacent, even in the good times. But when you’re paralyzed by fear that it could all be gone tomorrow, the temptation to lie low and not make waves can be almost overwhelming.
Now is the perfect time to get ahead. And the secret has little to do with an impressive degree or with knowing the right people. In fact, it’s not a secret at all but something society seems to almost forget about: hard work.
If you think you’re already working hard at your job, think again. You can’t expect to show up each day and just do your job and think that’s going to cut it. You have to make sure that you are never outworked.
Think about the successful people you know: celebrities, politicians, CEOs. What sets them apart? Their drive. Take Will Smith, for example: When asked to explain his success, he responded, “I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked. You may be more talented than me. You might be smarter than me. And you may be better looking than me. But if we get on a treadmill together, you are going to get off first or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple. I’m not going to be outworked.”
True, Will Smith is charismatic, funny, and a great actor, but so are plenty of other people in Hollywood. The secret to his success, according to him, is his work ethic. While working hard may seem like a simple enough idea (and it is!), most people just don’t do it.
Here are a few guidelines for reviving your work ethic into overdrive:
Burn the midnight oil. Nobody expects you to work all the time, but that doesn’t mean you should bolt out of the office at 5:00 sharp. These days your willingness to go the extra mile – and the extra hour -won’t go unnoticed. With all the budget cuts and layoffs that happened in the past year, there is more work to be done than there are people to do it. That’s your cue to spend a few extra hours each week at the office, or at home in the evenings, striving to get it done.
Be willing to bear the load. If there are rumors of layoffs or pay cuts in your office, it can be tempting to do the bare minimum while you bide your time and wait for the ax to fall. But now is the time to step up and take on new projects and extra responsibilities. If you wait for someone else to step up to the task, then you are being outworked.
Polish up your marketable skills. Yes, money is tight these days and your time is probably even tighter. If there was ever a time to add to your skill set, it’s now. Make a list of specialized skills that are important to your line of work and that could give you an advantage, then research continuing education in your area and online for increasing your talents and certifications. It’s a great way to increase your worth to your employer and to constantly keep yourself current.
Be a penny-pincher and a pitcher-inner. In a down economy, every single penny counts. Just ask your boss – she’s probably spending her nights lying awake trying to figure out ways to cut corners around the office to keep the company running and you employed. Better still, don’t ask your boss; come up with cost-cutting ideas yourself. It will also show her that you understand how business works and that you are constantly thinking of new ways to improve the bottom line. And don’t hesitate to pitch in yourself-even if it means resorting to (gasp!) manual labor. Roll up your sleeves and start helping out with the little things around the office.
The truth is that there will always be someone smarter than you, or who has more experience or a longer, more impressive résumé. But no matter what other people have, take a cue from Will Smith: You can always, always ensure that you will work harder. It’s a proven virtue and one that our nation was founded on. Hard work won’t let you down. If you infuse your talent with hard work, passion, and a drive for excellence, you’ll find yourself at the top of the ladder when everyone else is scrambling to stay on a lower rung.