Twelve steps to success

  • 2001-11-08
  • Paul E. Adams
Step 3: Apply yourself and don't be lazy

"He who wishes to eat the nut does not mind cracking the shell" - Polish proverb

Boy, do I hate to admit that I may be lazy. But at times I know I am. And I suspect I could indulge myself even more if my guilt mechanism would permit it.

Most of us are so trained to believe hard work is a virtue and laziness is such a despicable character trait that we do not want anyone to think we may be less than ambitious. Yet many of us when not stimulated or motivated to tackle a task may feel a bit lazy.

We may prefer not doing it or anything at all. The "lazy hazy summer afternoon" is fine occasionally, but as a daily diet it spells trouble and eventual disappointment for us.

I think there are two types of laziness: a behavior pattern of wanting to do only what we want to all the time (living in the present for our pleasure), and when we just can't seem to get started as we haven't found our niche in life.

If you fit the first description, turn to the features page and forget about the rest of this column. But if you fit the second, read on. Maybe going into business will be the stimulus to turn you on to a productive and rewarding life.

But if you do start rounding up family and friends to stake you, be prepared for years of hard work, self-sacrifice, disappointment and occasional elation. Once you make the commitment, if you want success and not the wrath of your family and friends when you lose their money, you will not have the time or the luxury of being or feeling lazy.

Success may look easy. But it's not. It comes from practice and hard work.

You will find that owning your own business is not a short-cut to success. It is long hours, personal sacrifice, neglect of family and pleasures, plus hard work.

Successful entrepreneurs appear to have life easy, money to spend and others to do their bidding. True enough. But success like that comes only after applying your talents with determination and focusing on your goals. Not before.

If you think you work hard for someone else, wait until you work for yourself. True, no one is telling what to do, except your employees, your customers, the bank and the tax man.

You will have deadlines and tasks to complete. You will have requests to comply with. You will have problems to solve and challenges to overcome. You will discover that hard work and business success go together.

Don't be like Peter, who started a gift shop. Once launched, he took afternoons off, enjoyed three-day weekends and believed that the art of modern management was delegation.

He loved issuing commands and going to lunch, a long lunch. After all, he was the boss. He left the "work" and details of his business to others. He was the owner. You know what happened? He went out of business.

Employees are quick to note if the owner is a bit on the lax side, if he or she is putting things off or attempting to do as little as possible. They soon imitate their boss. After all, is the owner not a role model?

Lazy individuals can hide in the Fortune 500, government bureaucracies and academia. Some even pride themselves on how little they do. It's as if they have pride in cutting corners or besting others, like parking in a handicap zone and getting away with it.

Such an attitude toward your life and career does not work well if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.

Ask yourself if you are lazy. As I say, sometimes I am. I have days when my to-do list remains unchanged. I can try to make excuses for myself, but I never really believe me.

I tend to postpone some tasks. I've found sometimes that the energy used to worry about the task is more that the task itself.

It is my opinion that the more you have to do, the more you will accomplish. My success suggestion to you is to pile it on your plate. You can get it done. You may well find that when the feeling of owning your own business becomes exciting, work stops being work.