SUMMARY: Today the word "work" has come to mean something to be avoided as much as possible for many people. But there is value in work. Not just for the money you can earn from it, but from the person you get to become. Hard work draws out talents and capacities that may otherwise have lain dormant.
Yesterday, my friend Caren lost in her bid to be elected to public office. Last week, an opportunity for me to contribute to a segment on Anderson Cooper's new talk show fell through. Last month, my son missed out on making the local travel basketball team. And earlier this year, I had a book proposal rejected by ten (yes TEN!) publishers.
The fact is that whenever we take on lofty goals, there is risk we will not achieve them. Too often though, when our efforts fail to produce what we have worked hard toward, we focus on the failure. We think about what we missed out on doing or getting. People speak about their "wasted effort" implying that because they did not achieve the goal they set out toward – whether it be the business contract they had worked so hard to secure or the promotion that went to someone else despite their hours of overtime -- that their effort was of no value. But that is not true.
You do yourself a disservice when you approach hard work begrudgingly. There is little in life more rewarding than working hard at work worth doing, regardless of whether you always produce the result you want.
Working hard toward a goal or vision that inspires us, regardless of the outcome, always holds intrinsic value. What matters far more than what we get from our hard work and effort, is who we get to become from it. My friend Caren echoed this sentiment last night with a group of supporters gathered in my home. She shared her gratitude for the rewarding experience of simply running for office and her appreciation for the opportunity to meet so many people, of all political persuasions and across all walks of life. Yes, she worked hard. Very hard -- door-knocking on 20,000 doors hard. But she also drew enormous pleasure from the hard work, and shared the quote by Theodore Roosevelt which has inspired this post: "Far and away the best prize life has to offer is working hard at work worth doing."
It is only human to feel disappointment when we don't achieve something we have worked hard toward. But our hard work and effort is never wasted. It truly is one of life's deep joys to "work hard at work worth doing." And working hard toward something that fills you with purpose and passion is always work worth doing -- whether it be raising your family, fulfilling a long-held dream, building a business that fulfills an unmet need or, writing a book to change lives.
Today the word "work" has come to mean something to be avoided as much as possible for many people. But there is value in work. Not just for the money you can earn from it, but from the person you get to become. Hard work draws out talents and capacities that may otherwise have lain dormant.
I don't know what challenges you face right now. But I will bet that in order to meet them successfully, it will require you to do some hard work yourself. Work isn’t always "fun". Sometimes it can be a grind. But that does not diminish from its intrinsic value.
So let me ask you, where is your life calling on you to work harder at work worth doing? Whether it is the inner work of transforming the way in which you are living your life, or the outer "roll up your sleeves and set your alarm early" work, always keep forefront of mind, that nothing worth doing has ever been done without good old-fashioned hard work. Period. I invite you to recommit yourself to putting in the effort needed to live a life that honors the best of who you are, and who have yet to become. After all, in the end it's never about the final destination; it's about the spirit in which we pursue the journey.
Margie Warrell; thought leader in human potential, master life coach, international speaker, media contributor and best-selling author of Find Your Courage.
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