Because hard work, by itself, does not make anyone success. Achieving success is like a recipe or a formula. We need to put in all of the ingredients, in the proper way for the formula to work. Hard work is often required in completing this formula, but it only works when applied at the proper point in the process. Putting hard work into the wrong areas is waste.
Our success depends on how others see us. All competition is a comparison. We are all comparing each other all the time. To be successful, we must be seen by others to be valuable to them, and being seen as valuable is more than being seen as “hard-working”. There are many different ways to describe this formula, but in my book, The Golden Key to Strategy: 101 Lessons in Winning, I describe it as:
- Seeing our position as other see it. The components of our strategic position determine how people see us in relation to others. They are looking for a value in five areas: mission, attitude, resources, character, and methods. “Hardworking” only applies to one of five key areas.
- Listening for perspective. We must learn what we don’t know about the competitive environment around us, specific needs, problems, and challenges that others face in the environment. “Hard work” isn’t valuable unless address what people care about.
- Aiming at the best opportunity. We must find a need, an opening, that we can attempt to fill in a way that allows us to either build on or advance our current position. We do not aim at positions that are already filled. We aim to move into openings we can easily reach. Hard work doesn’t help if the target we aim at a target out of reach.
- Move to explore that opportunity. This is where the hard work comes in. We must not only fill holes, that is, address problems, but we must do it better than others. Solving problems is always harder than it looks, but again, we have to use hard work the right way given the situation. Hard work is wasted on inappropriate situational responses.
- Claim to win rewards for our progress. Just like hard work is not enough to be successful neither is accomplishing our goals. We do not get recognized or rewarded for what we accomplish. We get rewarded for making claims and demanding their recognition. Hard work is overlooked unless we make it visible in a claim.
In other words, we need skills to know how to make our hard work count toward our success.