Patient Man Ride Donkey

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There is a brilliant new trend going around in which people are stating, “work smart not hard”. It is brilliant and quite clever. But, I wonder if it is the cause of some serious issues with many people deciding to build their future.

When I hear this quote, I kind of get the jitters. I have asked so many elders who have become successful in their fields (financially or otherwise) what they think of the statement. They all say the same thing, “how do you know how to work smart before you have worked hard?”

I think that hard work is a staple for success. Hard work and patience. I agree that working smart is important, but, as the elders say, how are you going to know how to work smart before you have put in your work? You cannot be a stranger to little sleep, to missing parties, shows, movies etc. You cannot be a stranger to wanting to quit, to loosing faith, to falling so hard that you’re certain you cannot get up. It is only after these experiences, along with the desire to keep going and the patience to maintain your steady work, that you will know how to work smart.

It is sort of like age, in my head. You cannot of be nineteen before you are sixteen. The badges and wisdoms that come with nineteen cannot come before you have earned them.

Now, I write this column knowing that working smart is a favourite saying amongst so many people, and I am steadfast in acknowledging their genius and wisdom. I am simply challenging the idea. The process to become great does not come by knowing what to do before you have done it. It can only come after.

I believe I know what they are referencing when they use the statement. In the times when our parents, or we ourselves, came to this land, we had to work hard, hard. Many of us worked and still work in factories and in labour intensive industries. I think that this statement, for the younger generation, is about moving out of the mentality that working hard for all your days is the only thing that will make you honest and successful.

I neither agree or disagree. I think that hard work is a prerequisite for any vision. Whether you are a carpenter, a journalist, a web designer or a brick layer, for you to be where you want to be financially and otherwise, you will have to start the ball rolling with hard work!

In time, you will know how to work smart. Perhaps you will have the money to hire people to do the work that is more difficult on your eyes or body-this is smart. Or, perhaps you will have the knowledge…and money to buy a machine that will do things more swiftly than any other-this is smart. Or, more, perhaps you will be so recognized that your clientele will come to you instead of you to them. Whatever the case, you’ll have to start before you get there.

My mother-in-law used this statement frequently when my husband and I were younger, “patient man ride donkey”. Donkeys, of course, move very slowly. Patient men don’t have to move so fast. This saying speaks volumes to the idea that being patient will get your job done and more thoroughly. But, it also says to me that without it, patience, your journey will be rougher and bumpier than necessary.

So, the next time someone tells you to work smart and not hard, please reassess. Are you able to work smart, or do you need to ride a donkey and put in the work? Stay the course; you’ll get there; there’s no rush.


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