What Hurts More?
“The pain of hard work or the pain of regret?”
One of my mentors is a 72-year-old entrepreneur. He started working since he was 12 years. The thought of retiring has never crossed his mind.
He told me he wants to die working — he loves it that much.
He said: “People will try to tell you that hard work is bad for you. And that you should work less. Don’t listen to them. Those people don’t enjoy their work, and they try to convince you of their fallacy.”
It got me thinking. Have you ever heard someone who loves their work, say that you shouldn’t work hard? No way. It’s always the lazy ones — like me back then — that make these statements.
When I first met my mentor, about seven years ago, I didn’t understand why he worked seven days a week at his age. Why? Is it money, reputation, escapism?
Like many others, that ask “why would you work hard?” I just didn’t get it back then.
A few years later, when I was watching a documentary about the Boston Celtics, I noticed a quote they had in their gym.
“What hurts more. The pain of hard work or the pain of regret?”
The dots finally connected. You don’t work hard because of external motivation.
People who think that hard work is about ego, escapism or money, do not understand the value of hard work.
That quote remains stuck in my brain forever. And whenever I struggle or want to give up, I think of that question. Because work is not always fun.
And you know what? I choose the pain of hard work every single time.
That’s why I work hard on my:
Not because I want to get rich or anything. I do it because it gives me pleasure.
I’m a pragmatist. I believe that the purpose of life is usefulness.
I never want to look back, and regret that I wasted my time doing meaningless shit.
Make your life better. That’s the only purpose of life.
What’s the alternative? Do nothing? Complain about how hard life is? Come up with excuses? Eat or drink yourself to death? Feel sorry for yourself?
There’s only one caveat to hard work. My mentor told me: Rest before you’re tired because there’s a long road ahead of you.
That’s what most people don’t get. Life is long. They have a go hard or go home mentality. They grind it out until the bone. That’s self-deception. You burn yourself out and start resenting hard work.
Resting is not that complicated: Chill out every now and then, don’t take life too seriously, and have fun every day.
Just understand that you’re not a robot. And don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Mental fatigue is more of a threat than the physical strain of modern day work.
What if you hate your job? Or that you’re not feeling useful? Find different work. Don’t fool yourself. Nothing will ever change unless YOU take action.
No matter what you do, don’t just hate hard work because you had a bad experience or other people tell you so.
“But I work smart.”
Yeah, yeah, I get it. You’re smart and all. But we can say that for every single knowledge worker. The fact that you’re using your brain to do your work already puts you in the top 10% of all workers in the world. That’s an important accomplishment by itself.
Want to reach the top 1%?
Work harder. Work smarter. Rest. And look after yourself.
If you play it right, hard work can be one of the most fulfilling things in life. Don’t shy away from it.
When my mentor turned 65, his family tried very hard to make him stop working.
He said: “They’re just a little selfish, and that’s ok. It’s my job to explain to them why I want to keep working. They’ll understand.”
Now let me ask you: “What hurts more? The pain of hard work or the pain of regret?”