Self Care November 23, 2020

Don't Work Harder—a Counter-Intuitive Lesson After a Massive Failure

José León @jrleonr

I worked for almost a year on my project, from Monday to Sunday, 12h a day. I was working hard, very hard.

It didn't work. I made $50 from it.

Working harder is not what you should do if you want to be successful.

Imagine two different people. Both want to create a website.

The first one thinks that he needs to learn HTML before, and he starts from there. One month goes by. And he feels that he is not ready yet and needs to learn a new cool library that will help him create a better website. Another month. After that, he feels ready and spends another month creating it.

Imagine another person. She doesn’t want to spend her time learning about technology because that’s not the point, and she understands that. She decided to use a site builder like carrd, and her time is spent on the copy instead of the technology. Four hours later, the website is live.

Who worked harder? Who has more chances to succeed?

The problem that I think many of us are making is that we work hard but on different things, like learning HTML from scratch and a new CSS tool like Tailwindcss when the only thing you want is to create one landing page.

What You Should Do—A Message to Myself

Find one thing that you can do consistently that takes a couple of hours maximum every day and do it for a year. The rest of the time, do something else.

Many people think that to make money online, you have to: work harder, work smarter, and fill every hour of the day with very productive tasks.

I used to think that.

When in reality, if you do one thing for an hour or two every day for a year, that can be enough.

I ignored this lesson many times.

There is no direct correlation between how hard you work and the results you get.

It's counterintuitive. You may think that if you work more, you will get there sooner. It doesn’t work that way.

When you share a product with the world, there is no difference between sharing something hard to create or sharing something easy to create.

People can’t tell the difference.

They will only care about how useful or interesting it is or how that helps their lives. It doesn't matter how hard you worked on it.

If you decide only to walk the path of entrepreneurship and ignore the rest, that won’t work in the long run.

I don’t think entrepreneurship can be sustained for a long time if you ignored other areas of your life.

Do one thing for a long time and take it easy. This is the best advice I can give to myself, and I hope it works for you too.

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  1. 3

    Couldn't agree more.
    I just did this on a pre-launch of an ebook. Initially, I was going with custom built static site, hosted on netlify or similar, using functions for forms, blog, custom design, etc. What changed? Constraints.

    Set constraints!!!

    I forced myself to use a landing page from an email marketing provider because I had delayed the launch. You know, building. The constraint in this case was "It needs to go live tomorrow"!

    If this ends up doing well I'll customize, optimize later.

    1. 2


      Constrains make you more creative. That's the way to go. Having 100% time and freedom can hurt you sometimes.

  2. 3

    Very good, and good to hear for someone like me who's new to this game. Loved this quote: "People can’t tell the difference.
    They will only care about how useful or interesting it is or how that helps their lives. It doesn't matter how hard you worked on it."

    1. 1

      Happy to know that this may help you. That's the best thing to hear!

      Find something you can do for a long time instead of working hard!

  3. 3

    Hard work counts a lot when you're pointed in the right direction and working on the correct things.

    Hard work not only doesn't count but also does enormous damage when you're pointed in the wrong direction and working on the wrong things.

    That's it.

    Always check your bearings before going all out.

    Nobody is owed success just because they spent a lot of energy on something.

    1. 1

      Yes, sometimes you need to put extra time into something, that's for sure!

      But just the idea of working hard is wrong. It affected my life. It confused me.

      Hard consistency. That should be the message.

  4. 3

    Best thing on the internet today.

    1. 1

      Best comment on the Internet! :)))

  5. 2

    There is no direct correlation between how hard you work and the results you get.

    This so much. This also kind of applies to other areas of life. Sometimes you work really hard, put in the hours and the promotion goes to someone else or the project is shutdown. It's a really bitter lesson to learn for sure, but something I've had to learn myself many many times.

    1. 2

      It's great to hear that you can identify yourself with this. That means that you have put in the work many times and know the difference!

      As you said, a bitter lesson, but important to learn it!

      Thanks for your words!

  6. 1

    I can't entirely agree.

    The problem is not that you work hard. The problem is that you don't measure results or progress. If you don't do, at least partly, all the hard work may miss the target entirely.

    It's important to know what to measure and when to measure it. Some things generate quick results. Some things need a lot of time to work, but they may be way better in the long run.

    Consider, e.g., SEO - it's not going to work in a week, but its long-time value is different from a cold call.

    One story from my life: I worked like crazy for about ten months, making B2B sales for my new product. I had to learn a lot along the way. It was hard. I spent all my money on hotels, gas, and employees... And I earned precisely 0. However, we saw that we are moving somewhere, and I insisted on working hard. Clients needed a lot of time to make a decision and to process it. Then, the first one signed the deal. And then another one. Fast forward two years, we signed up more than 100 clients with a value of $4k-25k each. We ruled the market for the given product, not giving a small chance to a competition. It won't work if I haven't been crazy :-). It never grew to be a multimillion business, but since I started it broke with money borrowed from family and girlfriend, it allowed me to further chase my dreams.

    If you want to achieve something great, hard work is definitely a part of it. But always be sure it's hard work with results or that you work hard to measure the effect at some given point in the future.

    It's entirely valid to work hard just to find out that you made a mistake or a wrong assumption. Correct the direction, keep working.

    On the other hand, when my first son was birth, I reconsidered my life and how hard I wanted to work. It opened my eyes and allowed me to push on prioritizing what's important and what is not. From that point on, I still work hard, but I'm more focused.

  7. 1

    first sell then build

    1. 2

      I'd say, try if you can sell it and then decide if you want to build it.

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