Almost everybody would consider themselves to be a hard worker. After all, who wants to admit that they’re a slacker, or the weakest link on a team. The reason most people perceive themselves to be hard workers is because of the number of hours they put into their job. And yes, many of us put in many hours. But are hours the only indicator of what it means to be a hard worker? Does how you work, not just how many hours you work, contribute to what hard work really looks like?
As I’ve reflected on what it means to be a hard worker, certain qualities come to mind. Each of these qualities are more than stand alone traits, but rather part of a pathway to becoming a high performance achiever. They exhibit the core of a strong work ethic, and the ability to get things done.
The Hard Worker Pathway
1. Priorities: Begin with the End in Mind
The Hard Worker Pathway begins not with the path, but with the ultimate destination. Being a hard worker starts by having the right priorities. It doesn’t do much good to work hard toward a destination that doesn’t matter. When we don’t begin with the end in mind, we end up in a place we never had in mind.
To help you establish the right priorities, practice the 80/20 Rule. The 80/20 Rule says that 80% of your outcomes are the result of 20% of your causes. In other words, 20% of your activity will deliver 80% of your impact. Or, 20% of your customers account for 80% of your sales. Or, 20% of your products and services will account for 80% of your profits. Or, 20% of your tasks will result in 80% of the value you add to the organization.
To practice the 80/20 Rule, create a list of everything you do at work (there may be dozens of activities). Then, choose the 20% of the items on your list that have the greatest impact on the organization. Finally, invest as much time as possible in the top 20%, realizing they will likely produce 80% of your results. If you’re trying to figure out how to identify your top 20%, ask yourself three questions:
- What are my organization’s top priorities?
- What are my greatest strengths?
- What activities provide the greatest return on my investment of time?
Where your answers to these three questions intersect should give you a clue to your top 20%. Look for ways to delegate or outsource the remaining tasks. Many of them may simply be time-wasters that you should stop doing.