The Tale of the Two Woodcutters is a story that aptly depicts the difference between hard work and smart work. Here it is.
There were two woodcutters. I will call them Jack and Sam. They decided one day to have a competition to see who could cut the most trees down with their axe. Each set off against the clock with their axe in hand.
Sam decided that he would keep chopping trees in non stop fashion to maximise his chance of winning. He noticed that Jack would stop every hour approximately and disappear for about 5 minutes. Sam continued with growing confidence thinking that he must surely win as he would not stop till the end of the competition.
So the end of the day came and both put down their axes. Sam was sure he had won. Yet when the count was made Jack had cut down the most trees and won the competition. How could this be?
When I put this question out to people most answer that jack took frequent breaks and therefore had more energy and got through more. However the real reason that Jack won is because when he stopped it was to sharpen his axe!! Therefore he got through more in less time
In a business world where time is money what fundamental lessons can we learn here?
Well the hard worker will find the concept of smart work hard since it has been drilled into them that effort over time pays off. The more time you spend on your business and the more intense your effort the greater the reward. If fairness had anything to do with this, how true that would be. However this is not enough.
For those of you who watch football you will notice how the bottom teams in the premiership work hard at dispossessing the opposing team of the ball. However when they are back in possession of the ball they are not as able to move the ball quickly and fluently towards the goal. The difference is one of skill.
The smart worker looks to leverage energy, time and money. He knows that if he sharpens the axe of knowledge applied, so to speak, he will not only be more productive, but will get more quality business. When it comes to time and effort versus skill, he knows that skill wins.
He recognises the importance of refining his skills and like all champions takes care of the basics. For example in the relationship aspect of business he will take inventory of his skills and evaluate how good he is at initiating, developing and sustaining relationships. In the area of value, he will audit how well he establishes, articulates and makes value propositions, and so on.
The hard worker rarely takes a break and will plough through the day, often avoidant of less formal conversation, more preoccupied with what he has to do than to be present to another person.
He often ends up exhausted at the end of the day and then will recycle this behaviour the next day. Prone to not taking holidays he is often referred to and reminiscent of the Coronary Type A personality
The smart worker looks after his energy and heart. He recognises the value of a regenerated mind, body and spirit. He plans his work round time out for himself or at least gives that equal importance in his daily schedule.
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, is famous for his declaration that ‘when you become still the answer appears”. The hard worker will hack away at problems with his thinking till he gets a solution. The smart worker recognises the value and power of silence for creating solutions.
The hard worker approaches life and work from a left brain modus operandi. The smart worker recognises the power of whole brain thinking. He will add to his essential armoury accelerated learning, not because I teach it, but because he has shown it to deliver speed of learning over time, in the laboratory of his own personal development. He will develop visualisation, intuition and imagination as essential right brain functions in order to develop whole brain thinking.
“Every man is free to rise as far as he's able or willing, but it's only the degree to which he thinks that determines the degree to which he'll rise” Ayn Rand
The hard worker thinks hard and ploughs through challenges, whilst the smart worker skilfully navigates, thinks smart and creates the conditions for innovative thinking with presence of mind. He realises that presence of mind can enable subtle distinctions of thinking to arise, which can make a huge difference to the quality of his life and business.
Finally the hard worker will take knocks harder, since, in his mind, his consistent efforts over much time ought to have paid off. The smart worker learns to recover from disappointments quickly as he cannot afford the luxury of indulging in this if he is to reach his overall goal. He accepts that setbacks are a part of the fabric of the growth that brings success, and strengthens his inner resources accordingly.
The list of traits could go on but you get the picture
To what degree are you a hard worker or a smart worker? To what degree do you use whole brain thinking? Robert Kiyosaki's book Rich Dad Poor Dad expands on this concept of work hard versus work smart as applied to money, and would be a valuable vehicle to explore and grow your skills