Putting in the Work

Dedication and hard work concept: putting in the effort.

Putting in The Work

Ensure that you’re not merely riding on the coattails of someone else’s hard work. Make sure you dedicate the time and energy necessary to be proud of your accomplishments—every single day!

At some point in our careers, we’ve all benefited from riding on someone else’s success. But how long did that last, and did we truly gain anything from the experience? Likely, it didn’t endure for very long, and the lessons learned might have been minimal. If you do believe you learned a lot, take a moment to reflect on how much more you could have learned by creating your wave.

If you sense that you’re riding on someone else’s success, it’s essential to reassess the situation. Ask yourself a series of questions to gain clarity:

Am I living in alignment with my purpose?
What actions did I take to reach this point?
Do I genuinely deserve the recognition I’m receiving?
Have I invested the necessary time and effort to achieve this success?
What steps am I taking to progress to the next level?
Who am I impacting or influencing while in this position?

There are numerous questions you could consider; these are just a few that I reflect on personally.

One such question is: What is your purpose in life?

That’s a question I find myself pondering nearly every day: Why am I here on this earth, and what is my true purpose? For me, there are several answers to that question. One is that I’m here to spread the word of God while aiding others. Another reason is to encourage growth and progress, both in myself and in those around me. I strive to be a supportive father, husband, and friend. After reminding myself of my purpose, I reflect on whether I’m truly living up to it. I consider what actions I can take to better align with my purpose. What about you? What is your purpose?

How did I arrive at this point?

One of the more challenging questions to tackle, in my opinion, is: How did I end up here? In my corporate days, I often pondered this question while traveling, staying in luxurious hotels, enjoying fine dining, and meeting remarkable individuals. Among all the employees, why was I chosen for this position? Why me? Upon deeper reflection, I realized it was both a blessing and a burden. While I relished the perks of my job, I also grappled with its drawbacks. Spending 50% of my time on the road meant missing out on 50% of my children’s lives and being away from my wife. Luxurious hotels meant sacrificing the comfort of my own bed and the intimacy of cuddling with my wife. Indulging in gourmet meals took a toll on my health as I traveled across the country weekly, longing for home-cooked meals and family dinners. However, the opportunity to meet extraordinary people was an undeniable highlight, enriching my experience and allowing me to assist others whom I might never have encountered otherwise.

I’ve also experienced riding on someone else’s success in the past, only to realize it was short-lived. I found myself in a place I thought I wanted to be, but it wasn’t where I truly needed to be. I hadn’t invested the time and effort required for lasting success. Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation, seeking a shortcut to a “get-rich-quick” life without putting in the necessary work?

What actions did I take to deserve this recognition or success?

I find myself asking this question every day, especially when good things happen. Did I truly put in the effort to earn this, or am I simply accepting a gift? Throughout my career, I’ve encountered individuals who constantly seek handouts rather than opportunities to improve themselves. Personally, as a naturally giving person, it’s challenging for me to witness this behavior. I’ve come to understand that some individuals become so accustomed to receiving without effort that they cease to strive for improvement. I’ve been in that position before, and I’m determined not to return to it. I prefer receiving a “hand-up”—advice and encouragement to help me stand on my own two feet—rather than undeserved gifts.

One example from my past stands out: a manager offered me a jacket as a reward. Instead of accepting it immediately, I proposed a challenge: give me two weeks to complete a project to their expectations. If successful, I would gladly accept the jacket; if not, they could keep it. This approach served two purposes: it made me accountable and provided a tangible reward for a job well done, while also incentivizing my boss to offer more rewards in the future. Reflecting on your own experiences, have you ever accepted a gift that you felt you didn’t deserve?

Have I invested the necessary time and effort to reach this point?

If you tend to be hard on yourself, your initial response to this question may be “no.” When I ask myself this question, my initial inclination is often the same. However, upon further reflection, I realize that I may be too harsh in my self-assessment. To determine if I truly put in the necessary time and effort, I consider some additional questions.

Firstly, I assess how much effort I’ve dedicated to the project, rather than solely focusing on the duration of time spent on it. There’s a significant distinction between the two. Some of my projects have remained incomplete for years, not due to a lack of time but because I haven’t invested much effort in them.

Secondly, I reflect on my level of dedication to the project. This is a question only I can answer, as my dedication greatly influences the outcome and reflects the true effort I’ve put forth.

Lastly, I question whether I genuinely believe in the project. There have been instances where I’ve found myself working on projects, I had little faith in, resulting in minimal effort. Alternatively, there have been times when I failed to take the initiative to understand the project fully, leading to a lack of effort in promoting or completing it.

What steps am I taking to advance to the next level?

Everything we do should be aimed at propelling us to the next level. Otherwise, what’s the point? Let’s take a moment to reminisce about the Miro brothers from our childhood. When we played, why did we smash every block? To collect coins or gain a mushroom. Why did we raise each flag? So, we wouldn’t have to start from scratch every time we failed. Life is akin to a game in many ways. Every action we take serves a purpose, even if we don’t realize it at first. I’m constantly pondering how to progress to the next stage of my life and what my ultimate goal is. Sure, I make mistakes every day. There are days where I misjudge, like jumping on a turtle only to have it rebound and make me small again. But I don’t see these moments as failures; I see them as opportunities for growth. Consider what you’re doing to propel yourself to the next level.

Who am I impacting while I’m here?

We all exert influence on others every day, whether we realize it or not. Even when we’re not physically interacting with anyone, our actions still have an impact on someone. For instance, my wife and I have a rule when it comes to posting pictures on social media: we ask ourselves, “What kind of memories will these pictures evoke in 1–10 years?” If they won’t bring back positive memories, we refrain from posting them. We cherish the memories that resurface on our feeds and strive to maintain a positive image for our followers. It’s not about portraying a fake life; it’s about showcasing our real experiences.

During my travels for previous jobs, I often reflected on the influence I had on others during each trip and whether it was positive. I regret to admit that there were instances where I had to apologize on my next trip for not being a positive influence. What kind of influence are you exerting on those around you? Take a moment to review your old posts and consider how you can improve your communication with your community.

Ultimately, you are the only one who can determine whether you’re putting in the work. It’s up to you, and you alone, to assess whether you’ve truly made the effort or simply coasted on someone else’s hard work. Instead of constantly seeking handouts, strive to be the person who offers a hand to those around you.

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