Career Advice

5 Reasons You Need To Work Hard To Get Ahead

My latest in Inc from June 25, 2015



So many times, I’ve been asked, “how did you balance your career and
kids?” Many young people want to hear that I found the answer to balance
and hope I have the formula, but I don’t. Unless you have a fairy
godmother who can guarantee early success in the next big thing, then
you are going to need to work hard to get ahead, make a great living and
have a strong career. In my experience, there are no short cuts and
there is no such thing as “balance.”

We live in a competitive, global world, connected 24/7. Understanding the implications of that is half the battle:


1. It’s a competitive world (part 1).
Yes, the person sitting next to you wants your job. Or they want to get
promoted ahead of you. You are competing, whether it is visible to you
or not, and it has always been this way. The ambitious ones among you
know that getting a promotion is very competitive. Unless you are
computer scientist (in which case there are more jobs than people), you
need to work hard to hold your job and advance, and you need to be
better than the person next to you. When opportunity knocks in the form
of a new project, or a request from your boss, do not say, “that’s not
my job” or “I’m trying to keep balance in my life”–instead, grab it
with both hands and show your boss that you are ambitious and that you
understand your hard work and smart results will be rewarded.

2. You can lean on your partner. This one is probably easier for many men reading this than women, since women typically spend
twice as much time doing housework every day as men. However, whether
you are male or female, learning how to lean on your partner as you push
your career ahead is critical because you are going to need time to
work. Everyone in the household needs to step up and learn how to cook
and clean the kitchen! For many women that means learning to give up
control and letting their partner take an equal role in running the
household. The good news is that a natural shift of equal responsibility
in the home is happening as millennials are twice as likely
to have dual income families. This younger generation knows better
than their parents do that a happy, functioning, two-income household
means sharing the work! Of course, if you are single, you are probably
trying to find the time to date, which can be a challenge and interfere
with everyday chores.

3. Your business is global.
Unless you are an hourly worker it is likely that your job is
increasingly around the clock. This is the side effect of globalization
as you bring together teams from around the world to solve problems and
meetings happen at 11 p.m., 1 a.m., or 5 a.m. Sometimes this can feel
grim, and yet it is actually an opportunity to spend more time with your
family. Unlike 20 years ago when I would have to stay in the office to
be connected, I can now go home, work out, have dinner with my family
and then login to work from my home office.

4. It’s a competitive world (part 2).
Not only are you competing in your global workplace, your company is
also competing in a global world. It is very likely your company has
competitors in China or India with employees who are driven to improve
their economic status in the world and for their families with their
time and dedication. To use the old cliche “a rising tide floats all
boats”–you want your company to be the rising tide so you and your
teammates can grow your careers. Your global competitor is willing to
sacrifice balance in their lives to get ahead and so should you.

5. Kids are resilient.
This one was a hard lesson for me to learn and my guilt was the enemy,
but I did learn. In my experience, kids do better when they learn to be
independent and they are incredibly resilient if they are loved
unconditionally. Yes, you want to be at their games so they know you
care and so you can share your pride with them, but I don’t think the
phenomenon of the helicopter parent is good for kids. They will be
stronger and more competitive adults if they have learned independence
and they will have a better understanding of what it takes to compete
when their turn comes.

6. Life is not fair. It just isn’t. You need to make your own luck. For 99 percent of us that means hard work.