Kevin Eikenberry

Article Summary:

Three ways you can work smarter not harder to get ahead.

Working Smart: It Takes More Than Effort to Get Results

Read the title again, carefully. It doesn't say "it takes more effort to get results." It says "it takes more than effort to get results." Ah, the difference a word can make.

In the world I grew up and live in, hard work is considered a high virtue. I've read children's books that spoke of the value of hard work. I grew up on a farm and was proud to work hard. Few compliments will be viewed as highly as, "They are a hard worker." And most people I know consider persistence a highly valued trait.

And I suspect your world is much the same.

As I continue to learn and observe the world around me, I'm quite sure this is the whole story.

That doesn't mean I don't think effort is required, that work is necessary, or that action helps us reach our goals. Of course, we need to take action to get results. Of course work is required to achieve anything of value. The quarrel I have is not with the word "work." It's with the word "hard."

Of course some things are hard work and always will be. However hard work, taken to the extreme leads us to the equivalent of bashing our head against a concrete wall, figuring that eventually the wall will crack, and we will break through. Can we break through the concrete wall and reach our objective using our head? Perhaps, but I believe there are better ways to break through the wall!

While this analogy may be simple, and somewhat painful, I believe it holds an important element of truth for us all. Why? We all know there are better ways to break through a concrete wall than using our head. As you read this I'm sure you can think of many tools that would allow you to us that while more easily and successfully while creating less pain and agony for yourself.

But unfortunately often people feel that hard work is necessary and that sacrifice is required for them to reach the things they desire.

The truth is, what we really need to do is work intelligently. There are many things we can do to work more intelligently, including building our skills, our capacities, our network, and our experience. All of these things are important. But none of them are the most important.

What is the Most Important?
The most important key to reaching our objectives, with less "hard" work is within ourselves. The most important key are the natural gifts and talents that lie within us, largely untapped and unrecognized.

In my experience there are two ways to mop the floor: on your hands and knees using a rag or standing in using a mop. When we celebrate hard work, it's like we are celebrating the rag. If all you have is a rag, you can certainly get the floor clean. On the other hand, if you knew there was a mop would you choose the rag?

So it is with our own natural gifts. We have the mop, but we don't often think about it or recognize it and therefore don't use it.

Three Things You Can Do
Here are three things you can do today to begin to work more intelligently.

1) Identify your gifts and strengths.
In order to use the mop, you must know the mop exists. In order for us to take advantage of our unique talents, abilities, strengths, and gifts we must know they are there. This requires us to think about our strengths and ask others what our strengths are. It will require time for reflection. It will require time. This task itself will require some effort. But the effort is worth it. Every time we use the mop, we gain time, save energy and complete a task more rapidly. It's time to find your mop!

2) Allow yourself to use them.
Once we know we have a mop, we have to allow ourselves to use it. Maybe your mentor used a rag. Maybe your mother used a rag. While that might be the most successful way for them, that doesn't necessarily mean it is for you. Once you identified your gifts and talents, you must allow yourself to use them. You must take the opportunity to use your unique gifts, because in using them, your results will seemingly flow from you.

3) Work on building them.
Many of us when reviewing our skills will identify a list of both strengths and weaknesses. This is an excellent exercise. While it is important for us to recognize our weaknesses and work in many cases to improve them, it is equally important to continue to nurture and strengthen our greatest gifts and strengths. Consider spending at least as much time nurturing and building your strengths as you do on improving or fixing your areas of weakness. Again, you will get greater results for these efforts because they will come easier and more naturally.

When you do these three things, you'll begin to make your work easier and more enjoyable. At the same time, you will most likely find that your results will come sooner and more completely.

What could be better than that? The results we want, with less effort and more enjoyment.

Remember, it takes more than effort to get results; it takes intelligent, informed, enlightened, effort.

It's time to get to work.

Kevin Eikenberry is an expert in converting organizational, team and individual potential into desired results, and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group. He is the two-time best selling author of "Vantagepoints On Learning And Life" and "Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time." Kevin has spent the last 15 years helping organizations all across North America reach their potential. His specialties include: teams and teamwork, creativity, developing organizational and individual potential, facilitation, training trainers, presentation skills, consulting and the consulting process and more. He offers monthly tele-seminars through a program called the Remarkable Leadership Learning System. Kevin can be reached at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER and through his website,

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