Work harder, not smarter.

We all know the phrase. Touted more often than not by the types who also employ buzz words like “Dynamic” and “Synergy”, the phrase “Work smarter, not harder” has always been one that I have particularly had trouble with

By Corn, Jack, 1929-, Photographer – Wikimedia commons Link

Don’t get me wrong, it makes a very valid point; a very targeted and payoff driven work ethic is nothing to hold skepticism over. I even would aspire to hold that quality one day. My only problem is that it seems to skip a rather large step in professional development; failure.

The art of practice is built on top of failure upon failure, and through small consistent steps of improvement and reflective criticism, a person can hone in on their trade and build skills. This goes without saying for technical skills, but also one that I feel personally I have quite a bit to develop on; identification. It is easy to consider this as simply scoping out a problem and applying a set of skills to solve it, but there is more to it. I don’t know how to explain it other than lack of experience and picking your fights. Spending time on the right things. Knowing when good enough is good enough. And most importantly, when to take a break and when to call it quits.

Maybe this is just speculation on my part, but it’s as if the only way to really develop perceptive skills like this is to spend time at the coal face, making mistakes, burning out and working hard. To work smarter, you must first realise what it is like to work clumsily.