Hard by Navina Anand

There seems to be two options for all of us to deal with life’s activities.  We can call it ‘Hard’ and skip it or we can call it a challenge and attempt to do it (I am not referring to the ‘Facebook challenges’ which have brought insult to the word ‘challenge’). Which one we pick depends many a time on what we are intrinsically good at. People who are good at language skills want to try their hands at crossword puzzles while those who are good at Math might prefer to crack a Sudoku. Some want to take on the challenge of climbing the corporate ladder while some want to climb a mountain. We take on something that excites us even though somebody else might classify it as ‘Hard’.

I am severely ‘craftarded’ and when I see somebody who crochets a sweater, it looks super hard and ‘boring’. I get the same from people about my scrapbooking hobby. We use terms like “ Wow, you have a lot of patience”. But the truth is , we only have patience for the things that we care about. Like for example, I have a lot of patience with my kids but not my neighbour’s kids.

And then there are also two kinds of people. The Ones who drive themselves to do ‘Hard work’. Everything has to be perfect. And they are happy only when the last I has been dotted and T has been crossed. They will drive themselves and the ones around them batty to ensure the outcome that they desire. They are relentless in their efforts. Their energy levels can only be admired but never emulated by many of us and their pursuit of perfection can evoke both awe and annoyance depending on how impacted we are by their quirks . The leaders, inventors, achievers usually fit into this category.

Then you have the ones who believe in ‘Smart work’. Get the biggest bang for the buck. For them, life is not about perfection. It is about “getting the job done” so that you can get on with the more enjoyable stuff. Most of us fit into this category. We really cannot sustain ‘Hard work’. Our best effort at ‘Hard work’ is those few nights before an exam, few nights before a deadline, few nights before that launch or few nights before a ‘release’.  We follow the SHIT philosophy (Some How In Time).

“Hard working” people- the ones who strive for perfection, who are willing to put in the long tedious hours of their own free will, mostly because they love what they are doing and  are usually, casually, unfairly labelled as ‘talented’ are BORN that way. It is 100% nature and not nurture. They also seem to have the attitude that anything is within their reach if they work hard at it and that is what drives them.

But is it all finally about finding “that “thing which gets you so completely engrossed that you forget the passage of time”? Csikszentmihalyi defines flow as “the state of concentration and engagement that can be achieved when completing a task that challenges one’s skills”. Is it just that people who work hard at something have just found the thing which keeps them in “flow”? Or are some peo1ple just innately hard working at everything they do? What is your personal style? Do you consider yourself hard working? Have you experienced flow? Or… do you believe that Life doesn’t have to be hard at all and getting the job done is good enough. 

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