Lately, I’ve been ruminating on a topic that’s been bothering me. Throughout the duration of my childhood, I never learned how to work hard, mainly well because I never needed to. I’m guessing in this generation of youth I’m not alone. (at least I hope not.) I’ve been listening to popular entrepreneurs over the years touting the same old rag to riches story:
“I came from nothing, and now I’m a millionaire”
“I lived in xxx where life was hard, doing xxx, not a penny to my name and made my success”.
I’ve been hearing this quite frequently from popular internet entrepreneurs like Gallant Dill, Gary Vaynerchuck, Grant Cardone, and so on. While I tremendously respect their accomplishments and follow these entrepreneurs daily, I recognized one disheartening fact: I had nothing in common with any of them. If you listen to these entrepreneurs you’ll hear one common theme: hustle, and when you’re done hustling, hustle more.
Never learning how to work hard hindered me throughout my younger life.
I found it confusing that I had the same ambitions they did, but oddly enough, no drive compared to them. I wasn’t born “hungry”, and I certainly didn’t learn it from my parents or the environment of my childhood. I was raised in a comfortable modest suburban upper-middle-class neighborhood straight out of normal. I had no rags-to-riches story. I didn’t have to take care of an ailing parent, deal with a rough neighborhood, or face anything that cultivated a cutthroat mindset. My parents didn’t struggle for money, and by most standards, I was raised well and in a very comfortable atmosphere. I did minimal chores and had very little responsibility.
Basically, I was soft. “So, am I lazy?” I asked myself. Maybe, I thought, but I honestly didn’t feel like I was. Why was I eager to succeed, but struggled with the drive to reach for the greatness I knew I wanted and deserved?
It was then I realized that I wasn’t lazy, I honestly never learned how to hustle or work hard, and that was a big problem.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, but you didn’t do me any favors. I don’t blame them, though. I blame myself for never challenging myself. It was only until my mid-20s did it dawn on me there was no golden ticket or cash bucket that was going to fall out of the sky and land in my hands. I had fallen into a life of comfort, decent salary, and an underwhelming middle-class life. My childhood aspiration of becoming a “millionaire” soon became a nightmare.
Ironically enough my mental shift didn’t come until I talked to an entirely random person on Facebook.
Quick backstory on what happened to me. I posted a question on a Facebook entrepreneur group looking for a golden egg answer. I asked the group “who here has made lots of money in a proven process that was willing to share with me?” Much to my shock and embarrassment, I got trolled and insulted.
“Yeah, when you find a unicorn let me know too.”
“You and every other chump out there”
The comments went on and on and I got pummeled. Repeatedly.
Only after a short while did I receive a Facebook message that would alter my perspective for the better.
A random person in the Facebook group reached out to me and made a few suggestions on some income avenues I could pursue.
Oddly enough, I had actually done all of the things he mentioned to me.
“Yeah, I’ve done all those before.” – Me
“Seriously? Well then you should be making a lot more money than I do…” – Him
“Yeah, I’ve done xxx and xxx and xxx” – Me
“Sounds like your ventures aren’t the problem. It’s you, and the question you asked on Facebook. ” – Him
“Sorry, what???” – Me
“It sounds like you don’t know how to work hard and put time into your ventures, and you’re just looking for an easy way out. I suggest you re-visit everything you’ve done, put your head down, and don’t come up for air until you see extra zeros in your bank account. Only then should you evaluate and change your course for the better.” – Him
“Damn. Brutal honesty. I didn’t realize how much I needed that…” – Me
I realized I wasn’t working hard, and at times not even working at all
I wish I could tell you that conversation triggered a magical switch and that now I know how to work hard every single minute of my life. The reality is that that is not how hard work happens.
What the conversation did do for me is trigger a response. It led me to the river, now I just needed to learn how to fish. Practice. Practice working hard. Sounds stupid, but I knew that’s what I needed to do. Because I was never forced into a scenario that forced me to learn, I knew I had to teach myself to reach the goals that I wanted.
Working hard is something you have to work at every single day, and hold yourself accountable for doing so.
From that day forward I am still teaching myself how to work hard. I am learning every day how to work harder, smarter, and better myself. I had realized that you can’t treat life like an end zone, but a constant opportunity to grow as a person.
There are two kinds of people in this life. Those who ask why the world isn’t filling up their bucket with water, and those who go to the river and get the water for themselves. I don’t know about you, but I’m headed to the river. Hope to see you there.
No matter your age, if you’re still caught up in the singularity dichotomy that you are meant for one thing and one career only, you need to break free and work hard for the life you want and deserve.