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Work hard or work smart?

Work hard or work smart?

I have these two people whose work I am fascinated in, even though they come from virtually opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to work ethic.

One is Geoff Thompson, who transformed his life from sweeping factory floors to writing books and screenplays. His work is very inspirational. He is a great believer in the virtue of hard work.. from my point of view too much hard work.

The other is Tim Ferriss, the author of the 4 hour work week and the four hour body. As you guessed he is not as much of a fan of hard work as he is of working smart.

I tend to favour Tim Ferriss’s work(as if you didn’t seen that coming). Let me tell you why.

Everything I have ever encountered in my life I have found applied knowledge is far more effective than sheer hard work.

A couple of examples for you that I have previously written about on this blog. Firstly Tabata. It’s 4 minutes of aerobic work 3 times a week versus an hour of aerobics 3 to 5 times a week.

Another example is that using a couple of fish oil capsules making diet and exercise much more effective in weight loss, as opposed to diet and exercise alone. Once again, the application of a little knowledge magnifies results.

Tim Ferris is a fan of the 80/20 rule. He used it in his business and identified that 20 % of customers gave him 80% of his business. He kept those, naturally. He also found that in the other 80%, there were 20 % of customers who gave him 80 % of complaints. He politely suggested they find another supplier. Sounds like a good idea to me.

And here’s the crazy thing. Geoff Thompson is a 6th Dan black belt who advocates hard, hard work in everything you pursue. Yet by his own admission he says 90 % of what you train in Karate is worthless. Tim Ferriss’ ( and my) approach is to simply identify the 10 % and practise that.

I really don’t understand why someone would advocate do more work than they have to when by their own admission they could cut 90% of it out and still be as effective. But then each person can have an approach they choose. If they choose to do too much, that is their business.

I can’t really say I don’t like zealotry on one hand and then say, you must do it my way.

So by all means work hard when you have to. But make life a little easier by working smart first. The results are in. Eighty twenty works in all circumstances; every field of human endeavour. Make use of it.

About The Author


A guy obsessed with stripping down whatever field he studies to get the optimum return from effort expended. Sort of like Tim Ferriss, except with zero fame.

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