How to Work Harder, Smarter, and Better: Quotes From Famous People on Work
Work Smarter and Better to Be Happier and More Successful
We all have to work. An examination of the advice of famous people given in the following 35 quotations can help us work smarter, work better, and be happier and more successful in the process.
In all walks of life, the most important advice you will ever be given about work is to work hard. I wish I could tell you there was a way around that. There isn’t.
So first, I’ll deal with the necessity for hard work, and then I will look at how to make hard work be smarter work, better work, and more successful and enjoyable work.
I’ve culled out the 35 best quotes from famous people and distilled their wisdom into eight simple rules for maximizing the financial and emotional profit from hard work.
Let’s get to work.
What Is the Origin of the Quote “Work Smarter… Not Harder”?
The term “work smarter… not harder” originated in the 1930s. Allen F. Morgenstern, an industrial engineer, the creator of the work simplification program, coined the term. The program’s intent was to increase the ability of people to produce more with less effort.
This was later picked up by the cartoon character Scrooge McDuck, created in 1947 by Carl Banks. Scrooge McDuck always told his three nephews, Hewey, Dewey, and Louis, “Work smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies.”
It is good to be both smart and tough, but if you had to choose one, would you say it is better to be
Rule 1: Work Hard
We all have to work so we might as well work hard. If we don’t work hard, we may be able to reduce the effort a little, but we lose most of the value of the work. You’ve probably heard the adage, “A job worth doing, is a job worth doing well.”
If we want to do a job well, we have to work hard. If we don’t put in enough effort to do it well, then it is just a waste of time. For instance, I am writing this piece about hard work. I can do a slap dash job and no one will read past the first paragraph, or I can put in the hours and the effort and produce something of value. The first is just a waste of effort (even minimal effort is effort); the second is something that will be of value to others and give me the satisfaction of a job well done.
Margaret Mead: Anthropologist, writer
I learned the value of hard work by working hard.
George Lucas: Hollywood producer, Director
Working hard is very important. You are not going to get anywhere without working extremely hard.
Mary Lou Retton: Olympic gold medal winner
Working hard becomes a habit, a serious kind of fun. You get self-satisfaction from pushing yourself to the limit, knowing that all the effort is going to pay off.
Napoleon Hill: Motivational speaker, Writer
If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.
George Bernard Shaw: Playwright
When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.
Swami Sivananda: Spiritual leader
Put your heart, mind, intellect, and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.
Rule 2: Recognize that Happiness Comes from Achievement, Not Idleness
Happiness does not come from idleness; it is work that brings us happiness. Work fulfills a human need for achievement.
Think of work as a form of play. Many of the things some people do for work, others do for play. The only real difference between work and play is the attitude of the person doing it.
Dr. Samuel Johnson: Essayist (18th century)
Labor, if it were not necessary for existence, would be indispensable for the happiness of man.
James M. Barrie: Playwright
Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.
Theodore Roosevelt: 26TH President of the United States
Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
Franklin D. Roosevelt: 32nd President of the United States
Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
Henry Ford: Founder of the Ford Motor Company
There is joy in work… There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.
Margaret Thatcher: Prime Minister of Great Britain
Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it.
Mohandas Gandhi: Civil rights leader (India)
Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.
Rule 3: Love What You Do
Fulfillment comes from loving what you do. If you hate your work, it will probably show in the final product. Every job, every task, every work project that we undertake will have some fun parts and some drudge parts, but you can only do good work if you can “find the joy” and focus on that.
For example, I am writing this piece about work. The fun is collecting the quotes, organizing them into rules, and finding the perfect illustrations. I feel a sense of satisfaction and joy as I see a hodge-podge of notes start to come together into a coherent article. The drudgery part is keeping my butt in the chair for hours. (Also, the proof-reading. I like creating, not editing. One day, I will get rich enough to hire an editor.
Are you a waitress? Take joy in providing the best service possible and giving the diner the best experience possible. Are you a writer—find joy in your creativity. Do you have to do a household chore--let’s say cleaning the bathroom? Find joy in making that bathroom sparkle.
Aristotle: Philosopher (Ancient Greece)
Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
Steve Jobs: CEO of Apple
The only way to do great work is to love what you do.
Kahlil Gibran: Artist, Poet, Writer
Work is love made visible.
Rule 4: Good Ideas and Talent Are Not Enough
You may think that with good ideas and talent you can skate by. Sorry. Even the most talented and creative people have to put in the work in order to achieve something.
The most practical, beautiful, workable philosophy in the world won’t work – if you won’t.
Emile Zola: Novelist (French)
The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.
Rule 5: Do Your Best…Then Do Better
You can always do more than you think you can. When you reach your limits, reach further. Always push yourself to take it to the next level.
Tim Duncan: Professional basketball player
Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.
Saint Francis of Assisi: Catholic saint
Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
Bruce Lee: Martial arts expert, Actor
There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.
Mark Burnett: Television producer
There's nothing like biting off more than you can chew, and then chewing anyway.
Antonio Porchia: Poet (Argentina)
No one understands that you have given everything. You must give more.
Rule 6: Take Risks
To accomplish great things you have to take great chances. It can be scary to try something new and face the risk of failure. Do it anyway.
Christopher Columbus: Explorer
You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.
Mark Twain: Author
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.
Rule 7: Set Deadlines
We have all heard the old adage: “Work expands to fill the time allotted for it.”
It helps to set deadlines. The push to meet the deadline will help you stay focused and work better. Plus if the task is onerous, it is nice to know exactly when it will be over.
Abraham Lincoln: 16th President of the United States
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Napoleon Hill: Motivational speaker, Writer
A goal is a dream with a deadline.
Do a bunch by lunch…be a winner by dinner.
Rule 8: Know What You Want
You will work smarter and better if you know what you want. Here’s another old adage: “Plan your work and work your plan.”
Set a goal. Figure out how you will reach that goal. Then work hard, work smart, work better.
W. Clement Stone Businessman, Philanthropist, Writer
Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.
Napoleon Hill: Motivational speaker, Writer
What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
Earl Nightingale: Motivational speaker, Writer
We become what we think about.
You Deserve a Break Today
Take a moment to feel good about a job well done. It can be a small achievement or a great achievement. You don’t have to find the cure for cancer or successfully negotiate world peace to take pride in your work.
Remember to appreciate all the little things you do. And, especially remember to appreciate all the little things others do.
Hard work will not necessarily bring wealth. As someone said, “If hard work makes wealth and happiness, then ditch diggers should be happy millionaires."
Hard work will bring you satisfaction and happiness. The ditch digger may not get rich, but he can be happy.
Would you rather be ...
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Catherine Giordano