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How to Avoid Unnecessarily Hard Work: Four Alternatives for Effective Leaders

How to make the shift from unnecessarily hard work to effective leadership through hard work.

Here in the US, we’ve reached the unofficial end of summer; where school buses and shorter days wait just around the corner.

Labor Day was first introduced to recognize the hard work – the actual labor – of the industrial revolution. Days were long. Work was hard.

It was laborious.

Seth Godin puts it well:

In the old days, we could measure how much grain someone harvested or how many pieces of steel he made. Hard work meant more work.

Now, we have confused the act of laboring in the field or factory with “hard work“. Often, work made harder through our own internal motivators.

He goes on to say:

It’s hard work to make difficult emotional decisions, such as quitting a job and setting out on your own. It’s hard work to invent a new system, service, or process that’s remarkable. It’s hard work to tell your boss that he’s being intellectually and emotionally lazy. It’s easier to stand by and watch the company fade into oblivion. It’s hard work to tell senior management to abandon something that it has been doing for a long time in favor of a new and apparently risky alternative. It’s hard work to make good decisions with less than all of the data.

Yes, that is hard work.

It is even harder when we allow ourselves to be motivated by ambition. Or when we show up simply out of obligation. Or when we allow our role in the workplace to be defined by greed, validation, or jealousy.

Perhaps hardest when driven by the fear of failure.

Fortunately, you can ease your burden by exchanging these negative drivers with healthy alternatives:

1. Assignment

When you know your role, and accept that you are at the table for a reason, you owe it to yourself and those around you to provide your input. Own your assignment.

2. Vision

In challenging times, when it is risky or scary, it is easy to lose sight of the mission. Keeping your eye on the prize may not be complex, but it is really hard.

3. Values

Your personal values are the filter by which you measure, react, and move. When your values are in check, decisions will be black and white, as if you have already decided which side of the issue to vote.

4. Love

It is much easier to stand up to coworkers or the board when framed in respect, love, and the well-being of the company as it aligns with the vision and values.

Final Thoughts

This Labor Day, exchange your unnecessary hard work for a lighter load; one where you are free to look for opportunities to excel, move forward, and grow.

All the best,


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