If I have to listen to one more banal ode to “hard work”, I’m going to puke. It’s such a trite tribute that keeps getting heaped on anyone who’s ever become even mildly successful, as though it was somehow this unique aspect of their achievement.
The first rebuke to this reflexive compliment should always be to point out the survivorship bias. The world is full of people who work very hard, in that literal, long-hours sort of way, and yet only a tiny minority of those end up with fawning fans celebrating that oh-so-hard work.
But, I think, more interesting is that the world is also full of successful people who don’t work very hard at all, again, in that literal, long-hours, no-vacations, self-flagellation sort of way everyone is so eager to cheer for (at least in the US).
Yet even most of those, who might commonly “just” log 40 hours a week – putting in quality hours to make quality work – seem commonly obligated to celebrate “hard work”. You know what? Fuck hard work.
Effort is not accomplishment. If you repeat the same lesson a hundred times over, you’ll be left behind on the path to insight by the person who advances through a hundred different lessons.
This obsession with “hard work” is founded in a pessimistic view of natural state of humanity being lazy loafers. That unless we constantly reinforce the virtue of “hard work”, we’re all just going to slouch on the couch. Nonsense. The drive for creativity and creation is innate.
The virtuous label of “hard work” is only necessary when you seek to cajole people into doing a lot of what they intrinsically do not want to do. Like exploiting others, hoarding endlessly, growing aimlessly. Chasing alienating goals in service of someone else.
So please, for fuck’s sake, the next time you reach for that tired “hard work” compliment, just stop and think: Why am I celebrating mere effort? Celebrate creativity, insights, breakthroughs, rebellions, anything but mere effort. Effort has gotten enough praise to last a century or two without another serving.