Working hard vs. working from the heart

We’ve probably all heard the saying “work smarter, not harder.” I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes when I hear that, I want to scream! I am the queen of streamlining work and making processes so organized and efficient that the thought of working “smarter” seems like a personal attack. I think to myself, “I AM working as smart as I can! What more do they want?” Then I go into a self-flagellating workaholic phase to find yet more ways to work smarter, get more done, use more tools, etc.

It occurred to me this week that the “smart” to which this saying refers might not have anything to do with using my brain or any technology. It sounds counter-intuitive because most of us associate “smart” with intellect. What if “smart” meant something else? A synonym for smart is “resourceful.” When all the mental resources are used at full capacity, there’s another resource available that I think gets overlooked at work. I’m talking about the heart.

As I have reflected this week on stories of successful people, I noticed a common underlying thread. People like Maya Angelou, Mother Theresa, Freddie Mercury, and Pope John Paul II have all had one thing in common: they followed their heart and allowed their lives to be guided by their passions. Although people like Mother Theresa may not have been “successful” in the way that we define it in the United States, she lived her life according to her passion. The same can be said for the others in that short list, and probably countless others as well. Our society has acclaimed these well-known people as heroes and saints because of the lives they touched. These people have let their heart guide them, no matter what. Does this mean that we have to eschew money and material trappings and live an ascetic life? I’d say yes, but only if that is the deepest desire of your heart.

How do you find your passion, especially when your primary concern is making sure that you and those in your care need money to survive? I’m not saying to quit your job. Instead, take time to reflect each day. What made you happy that day? If nothing did, what would make you happy? If money were no concern, what would you do with your life? Where would you live?

This might sound like pie-in-the-sky thinking and a recipe for discontent, but I assure you it’s not.If you allow yourself to concentrate for a few minutes daily on what makes you happy and brings you life, you might just find it. The trick, as I mentioned in last week’s post, is faith: belief in yourself, in the Universe, and in the beauty of your dreams. This belief will help construct the bridge between where you are now and where you want to be. Once you find yourself living and doing what you most want to do, then there will be no more need to work “hard.” The tasks you do will become effortless, and work will seem like play.

You know what the really terrific part is? You can have more than one dream!  We are only limited by ourselves and the ability to believe in our dreams.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to dream every day, even if it’s when you’re in the shower or brushing your teeth. The payoff for these few minutes may take a while, but it will come!

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