“Nobody cares, work harder.”
I’m sure you’ve heard that before.
This is a quote from Jocko Willink’s book Extreme Ownership.
It’s bold. It’s edgy. It sells well on a coffee mug.
But I think it’s BS.
I get it.
The driving force behind the concept is that your excuses don’t matter. Nobody cares why you failed or never even tried, and I believe that’s true.
However, my issue is with the “work harder” part.
It implies that you already know what needs to be done and you already have the ability to do it, but you’re simply choosing not to.
Work harder at what?
What if the things you are working on are wrong? What if you simply aren’t good at, or the right person to be working on such things. Why just work for the sake of working?
This won’t make you better, it will only make you busier.
And, it very well could put you further away from your goals with additional stress and frustration as the cherry on top.
Busy is not better.
Each day you can find hundreds of meaningless activities to keep you busy at the insurance agency. You can work harder to stress yourself out doing all of them. You will be exhausted by the end of the day and by doing so you will have tricked yourself into believing you did the right thing. You did what needed to be done. You worked harder.
You don’t have to do more, you just have to do more of the things that matter most.
Ask yourself this: “What is the ONE thing that I can do at such a high level that by doing THAT everything else falls into place and almost nothing else matters?”
The answer to that question changed my life and altered the course of my career.
Once I answered that question I became intentional with my time versus reactive to everyone else’s to-do list.
Once I answered that question I stopped apologizing for having more time in the day for me.
I shifted from spending 40 hours a week trying to do it all, to 15 hours a week focusing on only the wildly important.
And do you know what else changed? The agency’s results.
We produced more when I started doing less. I realized I was so hung up on knowing everything and doing everything all of the time.
I forced myself (as uncomfortable as it was for my ego) to admit that I couldn’t do it all and frankly I shouldn’t be doing it all.
I learned the greatest leaders don’t control every situation, they empower others to.
The greatest leaders don’t know how to do everything and they don’t know what’s happening 100% of the time, but they do know (and trust) everyone who does.
Nobody cares, work harder.
People care when you work smarter.
YOUR people care when you empower them to lead on your behalf.
Stop telling your team what to do.
Stop believing that you are “leading by example” when you do their work for them.
Instead, educate them on the WHY behind the importance of their success at the agency.
Then, look them in the eye and tell them you 100% believe they are the right person for the job and you trust them to get it done.
Walk away knowing they will find a way to succeed and shift your focus to what’s wildly important for YOU (and that conversation may have been it).
The idea that we can just roll up our sleeves and “work harder” is guaranteed to increase stress, reduce sleep and create burnout, but it rarely leads to positive results.
I’m not advocating laziness but rather increased efficiency.
Take inventory of how you’re spending your time each day at the agency.
Ask yourself if you are being busy or intentional with your time.
Clearly define what your ONE area of focus needs to be as the CEO of the agency.
Then, if you want to work harder at something… pick that.