You could mow a lawn with a pair of scissors if you wanted to. But it would be a nightmare of a task, even under the best of circumstances.
It would take forever, and feel like even longer. Your joints would likely be wrecked from stooping over all day long. You can forget about any chance of the work coming out even or looking clean.
And if all that wasn’t enough, you’d have to collect all of the trimmings by yourself, by hand. Surely, when it comes to a job like this, less is more.
A nosy neighbor who spotted you trying to take on this absurd task may suggest that you work smarter, not harder, and use a lawnmower instead. With a big fancy machine like that, you could finish the job in no time at all, and with far less strain on your body.
Don’t spend all day on a job if you don’t have to. If you have access to a lawnmower, it makes all the sense in the world to use that instead of scissors to mow your lawn. I’ve checked with the etymologists on this and they’ve confirmed that the word “lawnmower” is derived from the English words for “mow” and “lawn”, so it sure seems like the best tool for the job.
I know you’ve heard it before, right? “Work smarter, not harder.” It’s one of those simple bits of wisdom that’s been around so long that no one would dare question it. For any job you find yourself doing, there’s almost always a better way to get it done. A faster, more efficient way. A smarter way.
When there’s an opportunity to do something smarter, like upgrading from a pair of Fiskars to a John Deere, it’s almost always a good idea to take it. And there usually is just such an opportunity.
Working Smarter is a shift that frees up resources like your time, money, and energy. Because you’ve worked Smarter, you no longer have to work Harder. That’s it. Good job. Put up your feet and call it a day.
But what if. What if we didn’t let the story end there? You see, I don’t believe that Smarter and Harder are mutually exclusive. You can have one, or you can have the other, or you can have both.
Working Smarter helps you get work done quicker and more easily. That’s all you need for a trivial task like mowing the lawn, where you just want to get it done and get out of there.
But when it comes to working on the #1 Most Super-Important Thing in your life, it’s a totally different story.
“Getting it done” is no longer enough when you’re trying to do the best possible version of what you do, or become the best possible version of who you are. When you’re dealing with something big, that really matters to you, you need to put in everything you can to maximize the output.
Less is more, but more is more, too. Combine the two, work both Smarter and Harder, and you can change the whole game.
Remember the old children’s story about the cocky rabbit that thought sleeping on the job was an important part of winning a race, and the slow but determined tortoise who won by default? Well, it turns out, most people haven’t heard the whole story…
The Real Tortoise and The Hare
You know the gist. There was to be a race, and many favored the hare to win. With his lightweight body and strong legs, he was built for moving quickly and covering ground with efficient ease. A footrace, to the hare, was an unburdensome affair. He embodied the ability to work Smarter, not Harder.
The tortoise, on the other hand, was of a much slower build, with his heavy shell and stumpy legs. His body specialized in resilience rather than speed. In other words, he could go Harder, if not necessarily Smarter. Those close to the tortoise knew him to be a determined soul. So, some held out hope that on the day of the big race, the slow but hard-working tortoise would prevail, and the efficient but arrogant hare would lose his way. They believed that Harder could triumph over Smarter.
And so it did on that day.
As we all know, the hare, overflowing with confidence in his Smarter-not-Harder efficiency, straight up took a nap in the middle of the race, like a punk. The tortoise worked Harder than his competitor. He tirelessly committed to his goal, and he beat the hare across the finish line. His friends circled around and began to celebrate his victory.
But that’s because nobody noticed the badger.
You see, there was a third competitor on that fateful day. She was quiet, focused, and unassuming, and most of the crowd didn’t pay her any mind. But with her fast feet and thick skin, she was the perfect competitor. The badger could move quickly, but also didn’t lack for steady determination.
The badger, with a clear goal and a commitment to winning, used all of the tools she had and worked both Smarter and Harder. In so doing, she completely blew her competition out of the water.
By the time the tortoise arrived, the badger was already comfortably seated at a nearby table enjoying a nice brunch.
What Race Are You Running?
Now imagine this was your life, rather than those of some cutesie woodland critters.
What is the race that you’re trying to run? What’s the big thing in which you want to succeed, more than anything else? It’s probably not a literal race, unless you’re like, a marathon runner or something. In which case, you do you. Have at it, champ.
We all have something, though. A place where passions, skills, and desires converge on something with virtually no upper limit for success.
What is the biggest thing you want to change in your life, and what are you doing to effect that change? When you have an answer to that question, you have a goal that is worth everything you can invest in it.
Whatever your one big goal is, working Harder is not enough. Working Smarter is not enough. When the sky is the limit, you need every tool at your disposal to maximize your outcome.
Temper the product of your hard work with efficiency, simplicity, and cutting back what you don’t need. Less is more. Multiply the output of your smart solutions with energy, commitment, and determination. More is more.
Let’s Take a Journey
Who do you want to be?
Do you want to be the hare, and have tremendous potential but let comfort and complacency leave you in last place looking like a chump?
Do you want to be the tortoise, work tirelessly to reach your goal eventually and hope that it works out for you along the way?
Or do you want to be the badger, and combine optimized agility with indomitable commitment for massive success?
Join me on this adventure, where we’ll take the things we love doing and make a new path to everything we want to accomplish.
We’ll cut back waste to work Smarter and grow our results. And we’ll multiply those results through the persistence and enthusiasm of working Harder. All it takes is first doing a little bit less, and then doing a little bit more.
By doing less of what holds us back, we can clear up space. And by using some of that space to add in more of what makes us excited, happy, and fulfilled, we can change the whole equation. Less is more, and so is more.
Put them together to create a cycle of massive change in your life. The journey of Smarter and Harder is the journey from struggle and frustration to progress and overwhelming success.