Copyright 2006 Debt or Alive, Inc
“Hard work has made it easy. That is my secret. That is why I win.”
I got an email from a friend this week. She has started work on a new business venture but has gotten distracted by family matters. One phrase in her email stood out. “This is not as easy as I had planned.”
Her words got me thinking about the expectation that doing something new should be “easy.”
The expectation that success should be “easy” has been drilled into us by too many get rich quick schemes, too many promises of instant success, and too many sales claims that some product will make things easy for you. Easy, easy, easy.
This is especially evident on the internet. We hear too many stories about 24 hour promotions leading to a million dollars in sales, without knowing how many years lay behind that instant success. Speaking for myself, I’d like to find success on the road named Easy Street. Unfortunately, taking a stroll down Easy Street does not usually lead to success. Easy Street is usually a dead end road, leading nowhere.
If success is so easy, why do so few people succeed? The truth is that success is rarely easy. Most successful people attribute their success to hard work. And hard work is not easy.
The word “ease” is related to the word “easy” but they are miles apart. What is ease? Ease is what happens when you have reached mastery of whatever it is that you set out to do.
The quotation from Nadia Comaneci says it all. Nadia awed the world with her gymnastics at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. She made it look easy, as she flung her tiny body around the parallel bars. But that skill came as the result of years of grueling work in the gym. That is the real sequence. From incompetence to mastery by way of hard work. Hard work got her there, and she made it look so easy because she had reached a point of ease.
This is the very definition of mastery. When you reach a point where you make the difficult look easy. The price Nadia paid, the price any truly successful person pays, is hard work.
But even hard work is not enough for real success. If one of the biggest lies of our times is that success can and should be easy, the idea that hard work leads to success is equally misleading.
If Easy Street is a dead end, traveling down Hard Work Street is no guarantee that you will find success at the end of it. In fact, Hard Work Street can be as much of a dead end as Easy Street. Hard work by itself is not enough to lead you to success.
Why? Because sometimes you are on the wrong Hard work Street. Just working hard is not enough. You need to be working toward something that is authentic for you. One of the reasons that so many of us work so hard with so little result is that we are working at cross purposes with our true selves.
So the real question is, Are you working hard to master a craft or skill that is the right craft or skill for you. Are you trying hard to be what you are simply not meant to be?
Hard work would not have been enough for Nadia to succeed as a gymnast if she didn’t have some sort of natural facility and body type for gymnastics. This is why you don’t see female Olympic-level basketball players who are five feet tall and gymnasts who are six feet four. No matter how hard she worked, tiny Nadia would never have stunned the world as a basketball player.
And so, my friend was onto something when she commented, “This is not as easy as I had planned.” Success is not easy. Success requires hard work. But hard work doesn’t have to feel hard when you are doing something that is authentic for you.