Do the Hard Work

08.01.2021 |

Episode #5 of the course How to lead in tough times by Frank McKinley


Welcome to Lesson 5! You’re halfway through!

You’ve probably heard you should work hard. You should, of course. In this lesson, we’ll see that leaders are better off doing hard work instead.

First, let’s look at some of the myths of working hard, and put them into perspective.

Never give up. Perseverance will push you through the toughest trials. Just don’t let it blind you to bad working conditions. Use it to improve your work so every day is a little better than the day before.

Work until the job is done. This is great advice, except when you have more work than you have time to finish. Get help if you can. If you must work a marathon shift, make sure it’s the exception, not the rule.

Don’t quit because you’re tired. If you’re exhausted, rest. If you’re fed up, do something about it. Fix what you can. Decide what you can accommodate and what is non-negotiable. Then you’ll know when you should quit without regrets.

The work matters more than anything else. The process is helpful when it works. When it doesn’t, be flexible enough to fix it. If you discover a better way, make it part of your process. Cut out what doesn’t work. No process is perfect forever, so treat it like clay.

Accept nothing less than the best. Perfection is what we aspire to. Sometimes we achieve it. Mistakes mean you’re human. See them as learning opportunities. Do your best, and quit worrying. If your boss can’t handle that, work somewhere else.

Playtime is after work. Work is serious business. When you play on your boss’s dime, you’re stealing. The truth is, we all need breaks. We need to refuel. Running on fumes is a fool’s game. Take regular short breaks and the time you spend working will be more productive.

You can’t teach work ethic. Yes, you can. How do parents get their kids to do chores? Get a big vision for your work and you’ll have no trouble pressing on to get it done.


How to Do Work That’s Hard

The one skill you must master to do work that’s hard is this:

Know the difference between facts and problems.

You can’t change the facts. The word itself comes from the Latin word for “deed”. Deeds are past tense. Since you can’t change the past, you have to deal with it.

Know the facts and you know your limitations—and your opportunities.

Problems are obstacles life throws in our path. When you meet an obstacle, what do you do?

Move it. If it’s not set in cement, you can set it to the side and move forward.

Go around it. Walls don’t move. But they have limits. Climb over. Go around. Or dig underneath.

Take a detour. If traffic stops, there’s usually another road to get you where you’re going.

Here are three questions to ask (and answer) when solving a tough problem.

1. What is going wrong? The better you define it, the more effective your solution.

2. What behavior will bring the most change? Usually, one or two will move everything else.

3. How will we measure success? Awareness is the key to knowing if your solution is working or needs an adjustment.


Now It’s Your Turn

When you face a problem, answer the three questions you just learned. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make!

Next time, you’ll learn to teach people how to solve their own problems. See you then!


Recommended book

The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential by John Maxwell


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