The Myth of Working Hard vs. Working Smart
By Michael Moroney
Working Hard vs. Working Smart
Mike Rowe, host of the popular Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs, recently highlighted the dichotomy of how we portray work in America, in one corner, the romantic, blue-collar ideal of "working harder," and in the other, the urban, Blackberry-toting notion of "working smarter."
And while Rowe's comments were meant to illustrate the contrast between our perception of blue collar vs. white collar jobs, I couldn't help but think about the plethora of listicles I've read about working smarter, not harder. They all start by discussing the misconception that putting in long hours will lead to success, and then move on to how to cut down your hours and increase productivity by reprioritizing and taking "me time."
The problem with the working hard vs. working smart dichotomy is that all too often we frame the choice as one in which we can only choose "hard" or "smart." The question we should be asking is, why aren't we doing both?
Our culture's reverence of hard work hearkens back to the ideals of America's first settlers, who possessed a tireless work ethic and self-denying humility. This core mentality persisted for over three centuries of American history, as we built outward from an agrarian society and became the world's industrial leader. But in our transition to a service economy, and particularly during the digital revolution of the past quarter-century, we began to see the primacy of hard work as a relic of the analog, industrial past and started teaching our children to work smarter, not harder.