Look, I agree that if you are not feeling jazzed much of the time then
yes, you are probably not in the right place at the right time for your
talents. But what I am talking about here is a more nuanced look at the
situation; which is that you have to have some “un-fun” in the mix to
make special accomplishments.
Let me repeat. If you want to be
at the top of your game, and reap the quality of life benefits that
come with that, then I would argue that all of your work should NOT be
It’s these grueling, “not fun”
tasks that are key to success. There is a huge discipline difference –
with major quality of life ramifications – between doing “hard, smart
work” and this plus doing the real grueling tasks that your peers are
unwilling to do because it is too far out of their comfort zones.
What differentiates the A players from the B players is a willingness to do the work that is not fun at all.
use an example. There’s a brilliant economist with tenure at one of the
world’s most prestigious universities. He works incredibly hard and
smart within his discipline; in a way that few people in his field can.
However, in the tasks he least enjoys -- networking and marketing
himself – he is unwilling to do the hard work.
Let's look at the
other economist with a best selling book and with invitations to speak
at beautiful sites around the world. She can also work incredibly smart
and hard within her comfort zone, but is also willing to do the
grueling networking and marketing work that she hates doing. She does
the work that is not fun. Poring over the agenda of a conference she is
speaking at the following week, identifying those who may be useful to
meet, researching their backgrounds, sending introduction emails prior
to the conference to lay a better foundation for networking at the
event, sending the emails at night as that is simply the only time to
do so, getting in the extroverted mindset at the conference to make the
most of it, etc. [Again, this is stuff she hates doing but does it
And guess what. The one who does the most of this
grueling, un-fun work, becomes one of the most accomplished and admired
economists because of the greater exposure to inspiring experiences and
supporting people along the way. [And subsequently is best positioned
for a life well lived due to the confidence and financial stability
dividends that come from a successful career.]
middle manager who HATES to do performance reviews but plows through
them so that she can best develop her team and as a result best reach
- The entrepreneurs who hates to do cold calls
but swallows his pride because he knows it is the only way to grow his
business. Realizing that a little bit of “artist” suffering is a
necessary ingredient in the overall game.
We have this
misconception that if you have self awareness and are in the best place
to actualize yourself, that all your work should be fun. This is false.
It should be fun most of the time but you have to take on the grueling,
“un-fun” stuff to ultimately self actualize.
Doing the tough, unglamourous tasks is not fun. It can be a nasty slog. But know that it’s a key part of the mix.
Written on 2/24/2009 by Kit Cooper. Kit serves as executive director for Best Life Practices Foundation.
The website shares quality of life best practices discovered from
in-person interviews with well known types like Richard Branson and Tom
Skerritt to lesser known but equally interesting individuals.
Photo Credit: Phillie Casablanca