Work Hard? or Work Life Balance?

Give 100% At Work!

They sure don’t make us like they used to….its a phrase I have been hearing a lot lately.

Recently I have had deep and meaningful discussions with several leaders from companies in various industries in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan about improving and driving business performance. I sensed a lot of frustrations, almost exasperation from these leaders/managers as they try to get their people to focus and execute on the key activities, push for 100% plus that extra 10% and do all the necessary things to rise above mediocrity and to be successful in whatever they are doing.

So, I asked myself, what was it like 15 years ago (when I was a rookie)? Are there differences in mindset and thinking of the people today?

You almost never hear this anymore “man, you must the hardest working guy in recruitment/marketing/advertising/banking/tech/rock’n’roll…”. To me, it’s a HUGE compliment. You see, I equate hard work = success, not merely rely on charm and luck. Sure, luck does sometimes play a part but you cannot be lucky all the time. Another saying I use a lot of is “the harder you work, the luckier you get”.

In the first few years of my career in recruitment in Sydney, I worked for the largest recruitment firm in town, I was one of 2 Asian consultants in a company of 200 staff. We had a stunningly gorgeous Asian lady with perfect diction working in the banking team, often found having lunches and cocktails with her banking clients and winning tons of business, and then there was me :), the Asian guy with a stutter (oh…..GREAT!) trying to sell recruitment solutions to the beer swilling, tough-as-nails construction and engineering industry that was just emerging from a recession and cash strapped. After a cold, hard look at my SWOT analysis, I remembered telling myself, the only advantage I have is my work ethic. I will simply have to out-work everyone else to make it to the top billers lists. It took about a year of blood, sweat and tears, starting a cold desk, to get up to where I needed to be. At one of the end of quarter award functions, the Managing Director got up and announced “the highest biller/consultant of the quarter award goes to a bloke that got there thru sheer hard work and resilience – got up time and time again when things didn’t seem to go his way…”. I was pretty chuffed that day.

These days, majority of people believe in the work/life balance mantra but maybe I have a twisted sense of view of what work/life balance means. Sure, I want that balance too but could it be achievable from day 1 in a new career or in a career you are not seemingly getting any traction? I think not. I was training a new generation of rookies recently and I shared with them my view, if you want to be on top of your game and achieve something meaningful in anything that you do, at times, your life will be unbalanced. There are no shortcuts to the path of glory. You can take 3 months or 1 year to learn a new craft, the harder you work on it, the shorter the learning curve to get up to speed. So if you have decided on a new career or new direction, why slowly tip toe thru the tulips? Why not give it your ALL, 100% focus, work your ass off to get to the top of that hill, THEN when you are assured of momentum carrying you down hill then take time to pursue the other things in your life. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg didn’t have work/life balance when they started up apple and facebook.

What do you think about the work ethic in your office today, what are your takes on work/life balance? Would love to hear your views!

Picture courtesy of Google Images

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