Hard Work AND Enjoyment


Malcolm Gladwell is the author of five international best sellers: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference; Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking; Outliers: The Story of Success; What the Dog Saw: and other adventures; and his latest, David and Goliath.

Recently I read an article by Bryan Reesman on Gladwell and his latest book, David and Golaith. Let me share two excerpts from Reesman's article:

[Gladwell's] latest tome took more than two and a half years to write while he was also working on stories for The New Yorker (his "day job").   

 "I never had any great desire to be well-known or to sell a lot of books," [Gladwell] confesses. "I've only ever just wanted to do my own thing....Maybe that's paradoxically one of the reasons why I've done well. People sense that I'm doing things out of pure enjoyment. I'm not pandering to an audience or following a formula...."

Gladwell's timeline to completion caught my eye: two and a half years while still pursuing his day job. That speaks to the importance of adding a healthy measure of hard work to any dream. God reminds us of this in Proverbs:

In all toil there is profit,

but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Proverbs 14:23 ESV

As I reflect on that, I am asking myself two questions:

  1. Am I working hard to achieve my dreams?
  2. What do I need to give up in order to reach them? 

There was a second part of Reesman's article that caught my eye. He noted Gladwell's "pure enjoyment." That resonated. In Ecclesiastes 5, God also reminds me of the importance of joy and where it originates:

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil--this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ESV 

God is not only the giver of work, he is also the giver of joy. That means leadership is not simply a grind-it-out enterprise, but an opportunity to fully enjoy the work God assigns.

If I describe my daily efforts as "all work and no play" . . . if there is no joy in the work itself, then something is missing. 

So I'm asking myself two other questions:

  1. Am I experiencing joy at & in my work?
  2. Am I "accepting my lot," i.e. Am I content? 

If the answer to either of those questions is "No," then I need to ask "Why?" and I need to look to the Lord for help.

Leading for God is hard work -- we all understand that. But leading for God should also be enjoyable work -- and God is the giver of that.

Hard work and enjoyment . . . may you experience both!


My latest post for the World Leaders Conference Servant Leadership Blog: "Super Hero or Servant Leader?" Click here to read it.

Note: Quotes come from "To agree, or not to agree: Malcolm Gladwell see the value of pushing the envelope" by Bryan Reesman in The Costco Connection, October 2013.