The Art of Hard Work

The other night I was told my homework assignment (a one minute public service announcement using still, graphics, and titles only) was too hard and not liked. The interesting thing to me though was the more vocal the haters were, the better their projects were. This got me thinking: am I working hard enough on things that matter or am I spending too much time complaining that my life is hard?

A Glimpse Into My Life

Outside of teaching every weekday, I’m working on my master’s degree in Management and Organizational Leadership. I run a one-man creative business and I’m currently working on a few promotional videos, print materials, logos, websites, and a variety of other jobs. I’m married. I have friends. I’m working hard. I’m learning. I’m growing. And it hurts. I’ve gained weight. I’m exhausted. I forgot to make breakfast for my grandma this morning. I need more time in the morning to physically and mentally prepare for my day. But all of these side effects of hard work are worth it because the lessons I’m learning, the skills I’m gaining, and the people I’m interacting with on a daily basis are all reshaping me into a new person.

Am I working hard? Hell yes. But I’m intentionally working this hard because I want to be better at what I do, I want to give back to people that want to learn, and I want to be a more productive member of society.

The Hidden Quality of Hard Work

There is a hidden quality in hard work, persistence, which pushes you through mental blocks such as boredom, laziness, and depression. I used to suffer from major depression, but as soon as I started working hard on things that mattered I found that the depression was gone. Hard work has been more effective than a pill and therapy was.

I used to be lazy and I used to be bored. I used to be overworked with trivial and small tasks. The work was easy. I was comfortable. But there was no reward. I had just enough to make me not realize I had nothing.

That is the main problem with not working hard. You are so numb with mundanity, that you don’t see the vultures circling your life.

Skip Inspiration…Become a Working Artist

If you want to see a living example of what hard work gets you, look at the work of Chuck Close. He started his career as a hyperrealist painter and after physical setbacks (including paralysis and blindness) as well as learning disabilities, he had to re-learn how to paint. Today, he continually redefines himself and the work he does by working hard and not waiting for inspiration (or easy work) to magically appear.

Here are a couple of quotes from the embedded video below. Read them. Watch the video. Then show up, be present, and get to work.

“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.” — Chuck Close

“Every great idea I have ever had grew out of work itself.” — Chuck Close