Most mornings, my friend runs seven very fast miles.
On the days he doesn’t do that, he heads to the gym to lift weights.
Whichever workout he does, he comes home and immediately begins eating. Poptarts. Sugary cereal. Gatorade. Muffins.
For lunch? A sandwich, or more cereal. Cookies for dessert.
Dinner is usually fairly healthy, but always followed by some sort of dessert. Before bed? More cookies.
One time he said to me, “I’ve always dreamed of having six pack abs.”
This Man Is Working Hard
But he’s not doing Work That’s Hard.
Seven 7-minute miles is Hard Work. Lifting big is even harder.
But neither are Work That’s Hard.
Changing your dietary habits? Work That’s Hard.
Giving up sugar for 30 days? Work That’s Hard.
Eating nothing but protein & vegetables until you’re uncomfortably full on the days you lift, then taking a rest day tomorrow? Work That’s Hard.
Work That’s Hard and Your Career
Digging ditches is undeniably harder work than being CEO.
The reason that one of those careers pays so much better than the other (even if you’re terrible at it), is that becoming a CEO is a path filled with Work That’s Hard.
Unsuccessful entrepreneurs are great at Working Hard: printing business cards, getting a logo made, setting up a Facebook page for their brand, and going to networking meetups.
Successful entrepreneurs are the ones that can do the Work That’s Hard: building an embarrassing beta version, making a sales call, asking someone for money for the still-buggy thing that they’ve created.
Work That’s Hard and Your Guitar Playing
Oftentimes, we’re doing Hard Work and expecting to get better. But to actually make any sort of meaningful improvement, we need to do Work That’s Hard.
Thankfully, when it comes to your guitar playing, there’s a better, less unwieldy set of terms for hard work & work that’s hard:
Playing vs. Practicing
Playing guitar for three hours is Hard Work (and let’s face it: it’s usually not even that).
Actively seeking out the areas that make you uncomfortable, then practicing them until you’re better is Work That’s Hard.
So while you might call it “band practice,” hanging out all day on Sunday, drinking beers & playing songs with your buddies has very little (if any) actual capital-P Practice in it.
Work That’s Hard and The Lizard Brain
The worst thing about this distinction is that we’re really good at lying to ourselves about what it is we’re doing.
Oh of course I’m doing Work That’s Hard, we say to ourselves. Then we continue doing Hard Work instead.
The best way to know if what you’re doing is actual Work That’s Hard is to look for the Lizard Brain.
If what you’re doing makes you uncomfortable, if you’re worried what people would think if they saw you, if it’s frustrating to work on, if you can only stand it in small doses, congratulations: you’re doing Work That’s Hard.