Thursday, October 25, 2007

Work Hard. Work Smart

I am one of the last persons in the world who would tell you not to work hard. I know that hard work is the only substitute to a hard life. Hard work makes the commonest chance golden. However, it worth reminding you that working hard must also be tempered by working smart, or you might just be wasting a load of effort. There is a reason why we were born with both muscles and brains. We should use both…..and definitely not in proportional ratios.

...working hard must also be tempered by working smart, or you might just be wasting a load of effort

Consider the story of two lumberjacks in a tree-cutting contest. Both were strong and determined, hoping to win the prize. But one was hardworking and ambitious, chopping down every tree in his path at the fastest pace possible, while the other appeared to be a little more laid back, methodically felling trees and pacing himself. The go-getter worked all day, skipping his lunch break, expecting that his superior effort would be rewarded. His opponent, however, took an hour-long lunch, and then resumed his steady pace. In the end, the eager beaver was dismayed to lose to his "lazier" competition. Thinking he deserved to win after his hard work, he finally approached his opponent and said, "I just don't understand. I worked longer and harder than you, and went hungry to get ahead. You took a break, and yet you still won. It just doesn't seem fair. Where did I go wrong?" The winner responded, "While I was taking my lunch break, I was sharpening my ax."

Hard work will always pay off; smart work will pay better. Remember back in school, there were the people who studied all day and all night, but still struggled to pass exams?(I hope you are not one of them).Then there were the people who studied hard but also found time for a game of basketball (or time to attend fellowship) and still aced every test and exam. Both groups studied the same material, attended the same lectures, were taught by the same professors, and took the same test. Was the second group just that much more brilliant? Maybe, but my money's on the way they approached their material and learned how to study. If they were smart, they applied those same principles after graduation: work hard, but also work smart.

That's a lesson that can be learned by even young children. A little girl visiting a watermelon farm asked the farmer how much a large watermelon cost. "Three dollars," he told her. "But I only have thirty cents," the little girl said. The farmer looked around his field, and feeling sorry for the little girl, pointed at a small watermelon and said, "That one's thirty cents." "Oh good," she replied as she paid him, "Just leave it on the vine and I'll be back in a month to get it."

Call it creativity, call it ingenuity, call it whatever: I call it using your head. Knowing how to analyze a situation and how to execute an action plan will put you ahead of the game in the long run. There's nothing wrong with having a leg up on your competition - it's how you win. The combination of hard work and smart work is the formula for success. Think about what needs to be done, and then think again about the best way to accomplish it - not necessarily the way you've always done it, or the fastest way, and certainly not the hardest way. Never make work harder than it has to be. That's just a colossal waste of time.

There's nothing wrong with having a leg up on your competition - it's how you win. The combination of hard work and smart work is the formula for success.

Perhaps the ingenuity award goes to the fellow who came to the Canadian border on his motorcycle, carrying two saddlebags strapped across his seat. The border guards asked the obvious question, "What's in your saddlebags?" "Rocks," was the reply. So the guards emptied the bags to check out his story. Sure enough, all they found were rocks. So they sent him on his way. The next week, the same fellow came to the crossing, again on a motorcycle, again with the same payload. The guards checked once again, and found more rocks. Off he went. The scene repeated itself weekly for several months, until finally the guards couldn't stand it any longer. "We know you are smuggling something across the border, but every time we inspect your saddlebags we find only rocks. Please tell us what you are up to, and we promise not to turn you in." "Well," the fellow replied, "It's really very simple. I'm smuggling stolen motorcycles."

Moral of the story: It's good to work hard. It's great to work smart. But it's best to work hard and smart.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Magic Of Humour

There has been a decided paradigm shift over the last fifteen years from humour often being thought of as "silly" or "not appropriate," to it being a welcome addition to practically every area of society. The last five years especially have seen an incredible insurgence of humor into the heretofore "no humor permitted" corporate world.

It is interesting how much we pay comedians to make us laugh these days. Professional humorists are one of the top paid people in advanced societies. Check Forbes 100 most paid celebrities and you will find several humourists on the list. It shows the importance that humour plays in our evolving world.

So why are we embracing humour now? Out-of-control stress in both work and home life caused people’s pendulums to swing way too far to one side. Humour is now being used as one of the most powerful forces to help swing the pendulum back to center. (And maybe even further, if we’re lucky!).

“It was so cold where we were,” one man boasted, “that the candle froze and we couldn’t blow it out.” “That’s nothing!” said the other. “Where we were the words came out of our mouths in little pieces of ice and we had to fry them to see what we were talking about.”

Humour sells.

I’m not talking about funny commercials, although they certainly are more memorable than "straight" commercials. I’m talking about a salesperson trying to make a sale. If you can get your prospect to laugh at something in your proposal….or presentation….you have instantly shot to the top of his or her mind. We like people who make us laugh…..and we do business with people we like. And when people are laughing, they don’t feel like they’re being "sold". What can you do to get your laughs? You’re only limited by your imagination.

Humour heals.

There have been countless medical studies and books written on the healing power of humour. I’m not a doctor but I’ve seen enough cases of this to know its validity. Laughing causes endorphins to be released in the system, and they may be more powerful than diet and exercise put together. (Or so you can tell yourself every time you procrastinate your workout sessions.) I think that’s one of the reasons that so many comedians live such long lives. They are surrounded by laughter….their own and their audience’s.

“A man was praying, “Lord, is it true that to You a minute is like a thousand years and a penny is like a thousand dollars?” The Lord answered, “Yes.” Then the man asked, “Then can I have a penny?” The Lord replied. “In a minute.”

The holy creed gives credence to this fact. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. (Pro 17:22). A good sense of humour will no doubt prolong your life. It is as good (if not better) than medicine. Isn’t that good news for those of us who hates taking drugs! Laughter can do the same job!

Humour diffuses tension.

A speaker is heading to the podium, trips, and falls down. The crowd gasps and there is immediate tension. The speaker quickly looks up and says, "I will now take questions from the floor." A huge laugh follows, and the speaker picks himself up and regains his dignity. Not all of us can think that quickly on their feet….or off their feet, as it were. But when faced with a tense situation, the power of humor will work more quickly to diffuse it than any other remedy.

A fellow found a note at home from his wife saying that she was suddenly called out of town but that he was going to love his dinner for the evening. He could find it on Page 28 of the cookbook!

Another speaker steps onto the platform. Either the wood is rotted, or the supports are bad, but the speaker falls right through the platform, as it collapses around him. Again, tension fills the room. Until the speaker quickly looks up and says, "Don’t mind me. It’s just a stage I’m going through." Both of these stories illustrate how humorous quick thinking can not only diffuse tension, but can raise your credibility to an even higher level than had there been no problem.

Humour gets results.

The bottom line is that humor gets results. No matter what the need is, there is a way that humor can be used to help serve that need. Humour negates anger. Humour creates credibility. Humour gets votes. Humour gets ratings. Humour commands attention. Humour overcomes objections. The list goes on and on.
Whatever hurdles you might be facing at work or at home, don’t be afraid to try humour as a technique for clearing that hurdle.

An IQ test question given to a banker, an electrician, and a politician was, “What term would you use to describe the problem that results when outflow exceeds inflow?” The banker wrote, “Overdraft,” the electrician wrote, “Overload,” and the politician wrote, “What problem?”

You can’t stay mad when you’re laughing. So try to keep laughing. You’ll live longer. You’ll sleep better. And people will wonder what you’re smiling at all the time.
You are destined for the top of the topmost top! See you there!!