In America, you’ve been told that if you work hard, you will succeed, and for most people, that means get rich. However, hard work isn’t the only thing you need. You need to have talent, luck, and to find the right occupation for you. Minimum wage workers have some of the hardest jobs in society. (If you’ve never worked at McDonald’s, you don’t know how difficult that job is, especially if you’re working with a crew of less-than-motivated teens or for a disgruntled, entitled customer.)
Many minimum wage earners work hard for the money they get. Some of them have two or three jobs just to make ends meet. All it takes is a trip to the hospital or getting ill and missing work to push these hard workers to the unemployment line and bankruptcy. While certain news sources and the American belief system would like to label minimum wage workers as lazy, they’re wrong. You don’t keep a minimum wage job because the company needs a warm body; you keep it because you work your ass off. But all of that hard work rarely translates into a better job. So, how do you get more money for your hard work?
The Sports Way
Hard work doesn’t get noticed. Most professional players have talent and have worked hard to make it the top of their sport. Whether it’s the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, or some other major league sport, there’s no way anyone makes it into the league without practicing, except maybe Allen Iverson. Talent still wins out over hard work. You can look at it from a play in football. The quarterback drops back to pass, throws a perfect spiral, which the receiver catches for a touchdown. The quarterback and the receiver get the accolades. The offensive frontline who kept the quarterback from getting hit by the defense gets little to no recognition. They’re some of the hardest working players on every offensive play.
In sports, a player will simply stop playing when he wants money. In football, it’s usually a holdout. Anthony Davis simply skipped games for New Orleans and demanded a trade. These power plays only work for those who are at the top of their game. Melvin Gordon sat out for the Chargers and lost his job to Austin Ekeler. But often times, the players, who have the power, can simply decide not to play and demand more money while they’re not doing their jobs. This approach to getting more money probably wouldn’t work for the average American, but it’s one way, in which hard work isn’t rewarded; rather, not doing what you’re under contract to do is what makes the money.
The Entrepreneur Way
Dean Graziosi talks about his father and the hard work he did. He could see that his father’s work ethic wasn’t enough to, some days, provide for his family. Even when his father was better off, his hard work would never make him rich. His father needed something else but didn’t realize it. Graziosi got into real estate, and then, he decided to teach about it. This led him to a career of motivational speaker and entrepreneur teacher. He sells programs to help keep people motivated with the right mindset.
Owning your own business is going to be a lot of hard work. You take on all the risk, but you get all the reward. You’re still going to need more than hard work. You’re going to need advertising and great customer service, and you could still wind up bankrupt and without a plan for the future.
The Corporate Way
In the 1980s, GE CEO Jack Welch (affiliate link) fired people from the most profitable company in the world right before the Christmas holidays earning him the derogatory nickname “Neutron Jack.” He defends his decision saying he gave them a nice severance package and the opportunity to choose more rewarding work. Most people who work for a corporation aren’t looking for more rewarding work. They are looking for a stable income, benefits, and a way to live comfortably in retirement. This led to a rash of companies firing people just before they were vested in their retirement program. Imagine giving 9.5 years of your life to a company and being fired six months before you’re vested in the retirement program. In the corporate world, it’s become any way to save a buck over taking care of your employees. It doesn’t matter how hard they work; many positions are designed to be replaceable.
If you’re going to work hard the corporate way, you need to find a way to make yourself indispensable to your job. You need to become the one person your boss’ boss can’t live without. It takes a delicate balance of team-playing and asserting your efforts in the programs that are successful Unfortunately, it often means subduing your creativity while providing value for your work.
While corporations can change leadership and direction, you want to do your research on any company that you’re going to look at working for. See how they treat their current employees and what the current leadership has done at previous workplaces. If you’re going to work hard for a corporation, you want to make sure you choose the right one. It’ll also help if they are doing something you believe in.
Hard Work Is Still Important
None of this means you shouldn’t work hard and do your best at every job you take, what it means is that hard work isn’t enough. You can rely on luck, or you can make sure that your hard work pays off for you. Whichever way you choose to move forward, be sure that it’s one that will align with your values. And if you see someone working hard, give them a compliment, it’ll make their day.