Imagine with me for a minute, that we live in the future where society’s highest value is an honest day’s work…
…not overachieving, or ingenuity, or intelligence, or finding loopholes…
…just the ability to sit at the end of your day and feel tired, but satisfied that you gave your best effort to make something better in the world.
In this future society, humans will have developed an advanced intelligence, which fairly and honestly determines through multiple external and internal inputs whether or not you deserve a simple badge at the end of each day.
After a soft “ding” sound, a white oval with a black border appears in your inbox with “#HDW” written inside.
It’s the last work day of the last work week in the year, and you count 220 badges: one for every honest day’s work you have put in over the last year. You’ve taken two days off each week, six weeks of personal vacation time, and two weeks worth of national holidays.
The sense of satisfaction and calm surrounds you as you sip your favorite beverage and settle in by the fire with the people you love and celebrate another successful year.
The concept of the #HDW badge came to me one night in a dream. In it, I was playing golf with a PGA tour player as he explained to me why he wasn’t permitted to post a score at the most recent tournament he had entered. Even though he had finished all four days of the contest, he only received three #HDW badges.
It turned out that he had picked up his ball in frustration after failing to make a put on one of the par 3’s instead of finishing the hole. Even though no one had seen him do it, the intelligence that awards the badges sensed the fact that he had not properly put in an “honest day’s work”.
He wasn’t angry. In fact, the experienced had humbled him to the point where he was glad that it happened.
A Rediscovered Core Value
It’s my belief that this dream represented a core value inside myself that I had forgotten and recently re-discovered.
At some point during my entrepreneurial journey, ambition and ingenuity took me down a path that led me away from an honest day’s work.
You see, from a very young age, I was always one of the hardest workers I knew. Memories of long, hard days mowing lawns or de-tasseling corn filled my youth. I always felt very satisfied at the end of each day where I put in an “honest day’s work”.
This ethic led me to break into the film industry, start businesses, and get some great jobs. There was even a period in my life where I worked two full-time jobs at the same time. I would ride my bike to my day job at E! Entertainment from 8-5, and then on to the Paramount Lot to work the night shift at on the show “Speeders.”
“Work Smarter, Not Harder”
It’s hard to say exactly when it happened, but sometime shortly thereafter, I began to read about how to “work smarter, not harder.” There were books about investing and how to leverage systems that, once set up, provided a stream of ongoing income instead of constantly having to trade time for money. The concept fascinated me, and I devoted much of my energy to such pursuits.
Many years later, I woke up one day and realized that I had accomplished my goal. I was able to increase my income by many multiples. At the same time, I had decreased my working hours dramatically.
I was able to fill more of my time with leisure activities and mindless pursuits just as I had desired, but for some reason… it felt empty.
I felt lazy.
I had forgotten that work itself could be rewarding. I became so concerned with maximizing and optimizing and leveraging that I had forgotten about an “honest day’s work.”
An Honest Day’s Work
What constitutes an “honest day’s work?”
It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what an “honest day’s work” means. You just know it when you see it. It also means different things to different people.
Here are a few basic guidelines:
Length of Workday
An “honest day’s work” is not too long, and it’s not too short. It’s long enough to make you tired at the end of the day, but it doesn’t have to be so long that you feel miserable.
Working too much goes against the concept. For example, I might not have awarded myself the #HDW badge when I was working two full-time jobs concurrently.
For most people, #HDW will consist of eight hours, but for some it will be more and for some it will be less.
A major component of #HDW is trying your best at whatever you’re doing. “Mailing it in” is grounds for disqualification.
Whether the work you are doing is for yourself, an employer, a client, or someone else, are you doing the best you can?
Are you giving full focus to work during work hours? Or, are distractions robbing your attention?
The concept of #HDW is to engage fully in work during the workday and then fully disengage afterward. If you “leave it all on the field,” it’s easier to enjoy your time off.
The modern practice of bringing work home and home to work goes against the concept of #HDW. Plug in… Plug out.
Things Not Considered
Here are a few items that wouldn’t be considered when handing out #HDW badges.
I’m less concerned with talent than effort when passing out the badges. Give it your best shot, and you get a badge.
You could easily earn the #HDW in the process of getting and education, but having an education does not give you any bonus points. The world of #HDW, a doctor earns his or her badge with the same amount of effort as a janitor.
The concept is not about whether you’re curing cancer or planting a garden. It doesn’t matter if you’re the leader of an organization or at entry-level.
#HDW is not presented on a scale from 1-10, it’s simply awarded or not awarded. To grade it on a scale is to overthink the concept. Just get out there and put in a hard day’s work.
What Constitutes Earning a #HDW Badge For You?
The concept of the #HDW badge is a fun exercise in evaluating self and career. Today, when I find myself stressed from overwork or inattention to detail; it brings me peace to simply ask myself if I’m earning my daily #HDW.
If there were such thing as a #HDW badge, what factors would you consider? Please leave your comments below, and maybe even randomly send a #HDW via Twitter to someone who has earned it.