Right Things Done RightI’ve recently been struck by the number of memes, pithy sayings and outright declarations that equate hard work with success.  Don’t get me wrong on this, hard work is necessary for success, but it’s not the determinate factor.  You can work hard and fail or barely survive.  NO, the determinate factor is doing the right thing in the right way and then working hard on it.

Everyone has four options when deciding what to do and how to do it.

  • Right things done right (RTDR)
  • Right things done wrong (RTDW)
  • Wrong things done right (WTDR)
  • Wrong things done wrong. (WTDW)

Examples of wrong things are legendary with some subjectivity on the part of who is deciding or judging.  Let’s use a night on the town drinking and driving as an example.  You can

  • Not drink or limit yourself to one drink and drive home.
  • Not drink or limit yourself to one drink and let your drunk friend drive home.
  • Drink too much and use a designated driver or taxi.
  • Drink too much and drive yourself home.

The judgment of which is right or wrong is based on the possible consequences.  In the drinking and driving situations described above, the consequences can be severe (death or injury), embarrassment, or enjoyment.

So, before we get to working hard, we must decide on what’s right and then how to do it right.  But that’s the rub, to quote Hamlet.  What’s right?  It reminds me of the story of the Forty-Niner who complained about his cooking, so his friend gave him a cookbook.  When asked later if the cookbook helped, the Forty-Niner replied, “No, can’t use it.  Every recipe says to start with a clean pan!”

It helps to break our activities into those that are required, necessary, or desirable.  Required are things like paying taxes, eating, etc. – activities that if you don’t do them, then someone will make you suffer the consequences.  Necessary are activities like buying food, cleaning the house (and the dishes), etc. – activities that no will force you to do, but you will suffer if you don’t do them.  Desirable activities are those we want to do like hobbies, relaxation, vacations, etc.  I won’t go into how to come up with the list of the right things to do – that’s another blog post.

Once you know what you should be doing, then you need to determine how to do them right.  This is a continuous process.  I’ve personally been cooking for more than 50 years but I recently attended a class on organizing and preparing freezer meals, so I could improve the efficiency of preparing and having good meals – because I don’t want to spend much of my time focusing on preparing and cooking food – I have other things I have/want to do.

So, work hard, but first decide what you should be working hard on and how to do it.

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.