Work. The four lettered word all successful people empathize with. It's something most of us hate, or at least we can't wait to end the oh-so-mundane "work week" in time for the weekends. Work is such a dichotomous thing. It conveys to each of us varying platitudes that are both somewhat similar and different all at once.
I used Elon Musk for my cover picture in this piece because his work ethic has to be admired in awe. As one of the world's most prominent visionaries and audacious thinkers, Musk is also one of the world's hardest working executives. The man is no stranger to working 70 to 80 hour back-to-back work weeks with minimal interluding breaks. During his term at PayPal, he hardly stopped for a breather. So you thought a character of this caliber would have burnt out racing against time at the pace he did?
No. It kept escalating. After Musk left PayPal for good and proceeded to found SpaceX and Tesla, both perhaps the world's most iconic corporations in their respective fields, the work kept on going. Both companies have become monumental successes in the current zeitgeist, and have great futures ahead of them. Both have made immense progress, and have consistently been innovating.
What I'm trying to get across is the meaning of work and how it relates to success. I love work, and life really isn't life without work. Work means productivity, forward progress, and growth. Work is everything to me. In my eyes, work is fun and enjoyable. It has to be. How else can I love work otherwise?
Being both the Founder Business Of Finance, and a self-directed retail Trader and Portfolio Manager, there is always so much to do, so much to work on. Responsibilities are aplenty but so is the sense of accomplishment when something gets done well.
Like what I shared about life and success in my previous Lifestyle piece, I'm one that embraces progress. Life should always be a constant progress forward whenever possible. Granted there will be times of inevitable retreats, but just like in the business of Trading and Portfolio Management, as long as you win more than you lose, you're making progress.
Work equals productivity. Productivity equals progress in one way or another. However playfully you try to spin this equation, you can't get away from the fact that hard work will always reward you over time. Always.
And not just me. I reckon most other successful people in society share the same principals and believes. These principals and believes are fundamental to life, I feel. Heard of the adage "you are what you think"? It's pretty true as time takes its toll, and you look back thinking "hmm, I've made some really great and not so good decisions in life".
A love relationship
Like in all viable and long lasting relationships, both parties have to give and take. The magic happens then. That magic is called love. Love is powerful, and in the universe of possibilities, humans are one species that sense affection more than the rest can.
I'm firmly rooted into thinking that if you love work, work will always find a way to return that love, and reward you in ways you may or may not have imagined. No relationship is ever perpetually smooth going. There will be times where you just want to throw in the towel, punch your partner in the face, or slur a line of vulgarities at the other.
A healthy relationship with work isn't easy to build. An attitude of diligence has to be cultured over time for you to love work. Personally, I know when I've gotten to that stage where this concept can me epitomized — the longer I'm parted from work, the more terrible I feel. Not seeing a life partner for a week can be stomached. But not seeing him or her for a month at length is just too much to bear. It's painful!
The same really applies to my relationship with work. The more I do it, the stronger my affection for it becomes and the harder it is to stop doing it. When working, I never think about the rewards I want from work. You can't be greedy, and you have to understand that such natural processes takes time to blossom; like how whiskey ages well over time in proper conditions.
This is why it's so hard to stop working. The people that truly embrace the value and their relationship with work will be of the same train of thought. Work will always find a way to love you back, always. That's reassuring.
So what is work
Now this is going to mean different things for different people. I can only speak for myself and hope that you get the general idea.
Work to me can be anything productive. Running and developing Business Of Finance sits very highly on the throne. Managing our trading books and forming new trade and investment ideas also ranks pretty highly on the list of things I classify as work. But work to me can be much broader than the consensus belief.
While I have no qualms about having a 9-to-5 day job in the office or out and about, it's safe to say that the average Joe sees work as, well work. Work, to this group of people means doing something that gets them compensated financially via a pay check at the end of the month, or the equivalent of it.
Whatever their jobs may entail, the general consensus can typically be encapsulated by something like "I'm on the train to work, see you at the office", or "let's head out for a drink, I'm off from work today". Get what I'm trying to say?
The term "working hours" to me conveys the typical mindset that work is limited to a profession, or what people do for a living. With all due respect, this mindset can be toxic.
I'll start by explaining what work is to me. Anything that is of a productive nature, however trivial, is work. That can be doing housework, home improvement, learning a new language, networking with people outside the domains of your line of "work", training for a long distance run, heading out to shoot photos and videos, creative content creation, the list goes on.
Anything that creates value in your life, and or the lives of others, are things that I broadly classify as work. It needn't be related to what you do for a living or your profession.
What don't I classify as work: Sleeping, hanging out with friends, recreation, shopping, lazing around, being bored, watching TV, randomly surfing the Internet, and such stuff alike.
Unproductive things that take up precious time isn't work. Make no mistake, some of these are essential to living a well balanced life, but they won't ever take up a significant portion of my time each day, week, or month; it's like dating another girl when you're already married to one. You're just going to ruin relationships.
This is why successful people, again broadly defined as happy people, mostly end up running their own businesses instead of working for others for the entirety of their able lives. As I've said, I have no issues or objections to working a day job. I'm however not ok with embracing the mentality that working only means doing something that my job calls for, and anything outside of that isn't work.
With this toxic mindset, you'll likely not be motivated to stay productive when you don't have to. I don't have to be productive, but I want to be productive. They are worlds apart.
Keep moving forward
Can you see where I'm going as I conclude this rather personal article? Work is immensely broad. There are millions of productive things we can be doing that serve both the purpose of staying productive and living a happy life. The essence of work should never be caged up, constrained or rigidly predefined.
The times when I feel most unaccomplished, or may I say useless, are the times when I'm unproductive. The state of not doing anything brings one of the worst vile feelings and can evoke nasty emotions within.
Productivity is the key to moving forward, and work connotes productivity. A life of stagnation may be the worst life ever. Some people can be entirely content with that but it just doesn't do it for me, and I guess for many others too.
There will come a point in life where you'll not be able to be as productive as you wish you could be. Times when you can't do things you want to. When you're past your prime, getting ready to ease off the gas pedal and slip into your latter years. Yes, those are the times when work becomes less of a priority.
There's always a right time for everything in life. And there's also always a great excuse not to do something. Everyone will have their own opinions of this subjective topic of work, but for me, the love for work is golden.