…Well, not for the reasons we think.
(Your Skillset + Hard Work) x Time = Your Success
That’s the formula. Easy enough right? I was taught this my whole life. IF I work hard, THEN I’ll become successful! That’s the pursuit of happiness, yeah? Remember that Will Smith movie? Featuring little Will Smith? He was like “I’m smart but broke”. Then other people were like “ew, you live in a metro bathroom”. Then he finished a Rubik’s Cube and became a millionaire. I might be missing some scenes but, that’s the gist of it. Listen if you only get this far in the post, please know this: your skillsets and hard work will NEVER guarantee your success – but you should work hard anyway.
The Playing Field
I have a friend named Oliver who was up for a job against a female co-worker who was less experienced. She got the promotion and floundered. He said….
“How many women have been passed up for jobs so other men could get ahead? How many qualified women are going to get overlooked in favour of under-qualified men? I paid a price, even if I shouldn’t have had to; but, that’s what it takes sometimes. Just to start levelling the playing field. And that’s fine. But she struggled because they didn’t set her up for success so, in a way, everyone lost”
Oliver is far and away one of the most intelligent and hard working people I know. So, why didn’t he get the promotion? And why didn’t he care? There are so many unknown variables the formula doesn’t account for. Notably, the playing field. When people make a direct correlation between hard work and success, the assumption is that we are all in the same spot with the same resources. Wrong. Many people work hard and don’t necessarily reap any benefits. Some are lazy and become presidents. Others just need a little push. When I need assistance, it means another person has to do twice the work: their work and the work it takes to help me. In some cases, one might even have to sacrifice their position to give someone else a chance. Somewhere along the way, skillsets and hard work become moot and the only real variable is your team.
You know why Oliver didn’t care about losing the promotion? (Spoiler: he did and cried in his shower for WEEKS… probably) It’s because he can see a bigger picture. He has personal goals (as we all do) and is often his own worst enemy (as we all are). Nevertheless, he understands that people need to be set up to succeed. Occasionally, that means giving up personal goals altogether because you know it’s for the greater good. Working hard may increase your chances of gaining recognition – but that’s not why you should do it. You should do it because it’s the right thing to do and in time, it will benefit everyone! I didn’t get to where I am because I worked hard (although I did and I do). I got here because so many things fell in place way before I was ever on the scene and once I got here, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a sea of Olivers. I had a team that put in twice the work to set me up for greatness. So, I don’t work hard because I think it will guarantee my success. I work hard because I’m trying to level the playing field so we can all succeed.
Okay Fine, Hard Work Matters
Here’s my point friends: re-define “success”.
During this pandemic, some essential workers were 16 yr olds at Pharmaprix and you know what? They worked hard. I was on CERB watching Netflix while these Sec-4-Kylie-Jenner-looking-trees hustled to make it to their shifts so that we could all get what we needed. Their work benefitted us all. My skills and successes don’t just belong to me. They can’t and neither can yours. We’re on the same team – but the field isn’t level. If you only focus on your own goals instead of helping others achieve theirs, everyone loses. So be like Oliver. A team player. Do your best and sacrifice when you need to because sometimes, that’s what it takes. Work hard, not because you’re following a formula – believing it will ultimately lead to Rubik’s Cubes and money; but because you’re seeing the bigger picture.
In fact, you’re painting it!