If we survey the landscape of the most popular social and business influencers, we find common words and themes such as “rise and grind”, “hustle”, etc.
In an era when lots of people believe they are automatically entitled to The Good Life, a message that work is hard is a welcome one. Far too many people go through life believing they deserve more than they’ve earned, so to the extent that hustle and grind offsets that attitude, I welcome it.
However, one aspect doesn’t sit as well with me: the presumption that hard work must also be suffering. This aspect is inherent in the expression of “the grind” – that hard work is laborious, that it wears us down, that we must suffer through it. Equally troubling is the presumption that if we’re not grinding in misery, we’re not on a path to success.
Hard work is effort, yes, but if we’re doing work that we enjoy, that we find meaning in, then we don’t need to feel pain and suffering while we do it. We don’t need to be miserable to be successful.
That’s not to say that every day will be sunshine and roses – that’s as much a delusion as hard work must always make us suffer. But on balance, if the work we’re doing is meaningful and enjoyable, then we should be happy doing it.
Someone who loves the outdoors and working the land will find digging and planting hard work, but fulfilling and rewarding. They will have no shortage of callouses on their hands, but chances are they will also have a smile on their faces a good amount of the time.
Someone who loves solving riddles and writing code will find sitting at a desk hashing out algorithms to be incredibly taxing, but just as rewarding and fulfilling. The euphoria of solving a difficult problem is a huge rush.
Someone who loves pleasing people will find acting on stage strenuous. Acting is filled with long hours and harsh conditions, but the joy they receive from entertaining others makes the effort a delight.
Misery means we’re doing the wrong work. We’re doing work that we don’t find meaningful and rewarding. We’re grinding away at something that’s not aligned with who we are or what we’re good at – and yes, then every day will feel like pain and suffering.
So, hustle? Yes. Work hard? Without a doubt. Have big goals and big dreams? Go for it. But make sure that as you do, you enjoy the journey as much as you strive toward the destination.
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