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.]

Other examples:

  • The

    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

    her goals.

  • 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