Everybody who has looked on social media for some inspiration has come across the quote, “Don’t work hard, work smart”. When you scroll down to the comment section under the post you find people commenting; ‘why not do both?’ These people couldn’t be more accurate than proposing to work hard and smart at the same time. But still, this description to achieve success is still vague and it doesn’t give you any practical advice. Everyone has his or her own definition about working hard and being smart, so what does this exactly mean?
The phenomenon that provides a clear answer to these vague descriptions about working hard and smart is called deliberate practice. Simply said, deliberate practice is the conscious decision to better yourself every day and it separates the successful from the unsuccessful people. Thankfully, deliberate practice has nothing to do with being gifted or being born in the right environment. It has everything to do with working smart and hard…but the right way.
Below are 4 principles that convey what working ‘hard & smart’ really means:
1. Focus on specific aspects
Don’t try to become better at everything all at once. Instead, focus on the areas that you need to improve. One thing many successful people are able to do is separate their strengths from their weaknesses so that they get a clear and truthful overview of their capabilities. To get a good overview of your own capabilities, ask people who are close to you to their opinions on what your best qualities are and in which other areas you can improve.
Furthermore, also reflect back on your own journey to find out what went well and where things got difficult. By really targeting the areas you need to improve, you’ll be a lot more efficient and therefore you will make much more progress than just improving something based on your intuition.
“Life is about growing and improving and getting better.” – Conor McGregor
2. Practicing creates progress
If you’re an athlete and you need to improve your physique, go to the gym more often. If you’re an entrepreneur and you need to become more skilled in a certain area, practice more. The only way to become better at something is to repeat the process, until you don’t want to do it anymore. And even then you still have to be disciplined enough to do the same thing over and over again.
Every successful person had to focus on his/her craft first before they could show to the world how great they were. It’s only when you’ve trained or practiced something enough that your skill level will become above-average. Otherwise you’ll just be good, not great. Lasting success won’t come easy and it certainly won’t come to you when you decide to quit when times get hard.
3. Find someone who is better
This is very important to achieve success much faster. Every person who has become immensely successful had someone they could learn from. Tiger Woods & Wolfgang Mozart had their fathers as mentors. Warren Buffet was being mentored by Alexander Graham to become known as the ‘Oracle of Omaha’.
These mentors were like teachers to them. They always saw room for improvement in their protégé’s and they made sure they didn’t make the same mistakes as they did. So, essentially they reduced the learning curve and therefore they progressed much faster than when without a mentor.
Luckily, in today’s world it’s not necessary anymore to find a person who has already accomplished what you want to achieve. So many successful people in all areas of life have written down what they did and how they did it. If you can’t find a real-life mentor use books as a reflection on your own process. Study the processes of the people who are authorities in your niche and try to associate it to your own journey.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward
4. It takes mental focus
Hustling isn’t supposed to be fun if you’re doing it the right way. You have to make sacrifices, you have to overcome obstacles, you need to practice until the point that you want to quit, and you have to deal with people’s misunderstandings and misconceptions of your behavior.
These are just a few obstacles of the many that you’ll face when you’re on the road to success. That’s why you need to be mentally strong, because if you get scared easily by all these different distractions, then becoming successful will be even harder than it already is.