“I find the courage to follow my dreams because I don’t have any other choice.” — Karol Gajda
Let it be known: I love doing the work.
I love it. I love showing up each day to make things happen. I love the feeling at the end of the day when I know I’ve done good work.
But when I talk about “the work,” I’m not talking about the day-to-day tasks and duties. I’m not talking about the bullet points.
The work is so much bigger than that. What I’m talking about is The Work — the thing you do to make a dent in this universe.
The work starts with five things. It is a simple equation:
Work = Passion + Hustle + Skills + Time + Tribe
Some people have one, maybe two of those things down. A lot of entrepreneurs have the first three, but they don’t have the time or the tribe, and without those, projects die.
If you can find a way to put all five together together, you’ll have magic.
Do you love showing up to put in the hours? Are you excited about what you do? Do you truly care?
Matt Rutherford’s a case study in passion. This year, he circumnavigated the Americas on a 27-foot sailboat — by himself, without stopping. A fellow sailor who’d done the journey — on a much larger boat, and with a small crew — described Rutherford like this:
“What Matt is trying to do, I’m absolutely blown away by it, He’s doing this in a boat that, frankly, I’d be scared to sail from Newport to Bermuda. I’m in awe of the guy. This is such a mammoth undertaking, and to do it without stopping — alone — is mind-boggling. It’s almost teetering on the edge of blood-insanity, frankly.”
That’s the kind of passion I’m talking about: the kind of passion that would drive your fellow colleagues to question your own sanity. Great work will push you to limits others say can’t be reached. Without crazy passion, you’ll listen to them — and turn back before the journey’s up.
Love — with every bit of you — what you do. It’s the only way to convince yourself to do what should be impossible.
Hustle often gets confused with speed, and that’s not quite right. Hustle isn’t about working faster. It’s about working harder. It’s about putting in those extra hours, and making a few extra things happen each day.
Hustle means setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier every morning to make time for a big task. It means staying at the office 15 minutes later to make that extra call. Over the course of the year, all those 15 minutes add up.
The Olympics have given us story after story of athletes who hustle: the soccer player who has a bad game and then turns in 10 straight days of four-hour work sessions to prove to her coach that she’s ready for the Games; the gymnast who takes an extra job as a teenager so can he support his family while he works towards London.
Hustle is one of the true game-changers in this world. Hustle is the physical manifestation of passion. It’s the way you show how hard you’re willing to go to do work you love.
What skills do you already have? And what do you need to learn in order to do better work?
The greats go and practice their skills every day, and they get better. Over time, skills get honed, refined and perfected.
Skills can be learned. You have no excuse: To do great work, you must make learning a priority.
If you’re not constantly evaluating your own skills, you’re not thinking about what you can do to do better work.
Time cannot be accrued; it can only be lost.
So do you have time to do the work you need to do? There’s a reason many of the greats preach the virtues of saying “no” to time-consuming requests. There’s a reason the greats say something like this nearly every day:
Time. I want to buy time. In bulk.
— Tina Roth Eisenberg (@swissmiss) August 2, 2012
But we can’t. We get the time we have. And every day is one less day.
Great work requires all the time you have. Start immediately.
The final piece of the work, and the least obvious. Your tribe encompasses the people who believe in you and support you. They are your friends, your family, your co-workers, your mentors. They are the people who love the work you do.
Everyone who does great work has a tribe. Together, with your work and their support, you can make things happen that you alone cannot do. Work is best shared.
But you must be willing to ask for help, and you need that tribe there to help you find the answers.
Find your tribe and show them how important they are to you. They will give it back to you ten-fold.
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So that’s your equation: Passion + Hustle + Skills + Time + Tribe. Put those five together and — I promise you — you will do great work. Some of it will break through, and some of it will not. Luck and timing will play a role.
But if you have those five things, you have the formula.
Now it’s up to you to make the work happen.
Today, I urge you: Do great work.
That photo of the work getting done comes from @pyensan.