Wednesday, October 3, 2018

"Don't Work Too Hard!" -- Words That I've Been Pondering

Recently, I was out mowing my property on a very hot Indiana summer day and a pastor I met not long ago happened to be walking by. When I was somewhat close to him he yelled over the noise of the lawnmower, "Don't work too hard!" -- and kept striding along. For the rest of the time that I pushed my mower over the 20,000 square feet of lawn, I kept thinking about his words... "Don't work too hard!" The question that kept going through my mind was, what is considered "too hard" when it comes to work?

The suggestion, "Don't work too hard!" is one that I've heard countless times in my life... although I don't recall an employer ever saying those words to me! I've had friends and family tell me on occasion not to work too hard, and there have been moments -- like that with the pastor -- when someone passing by has said those words. In fact, I'm sure that I've even said those words to some people in my lifetime.

I was mowing my lawn again a couple of days ago and the thought came back into my mind. What does the average person think is "too hard" when it comes to work? Personally, I have a strong work ethic and am not afraid of putting in hard work. In March 2017, I wrote a blog entry titled, "Do You Think You Have A Strong Work Ethic?" I believe a solid work ethic is essential to success. However, the statement/advice/warning of "Don't Work Too Hard!" isn't focused on one's work ethic. It's focused on the intensity, magnitude and/or duration of the work being performed.

Some people may say, "Don't work too hard!" because the work that they see being done is beyond the effort that they would personally do. Or, perhaps they see the sweat, strain and/or fatigue and believe that the person should take a break or pace themselves better at the task being undertaken. Or, perhaps they feel that the person should have more balance in his or her life between work and rest. Or, perhaps they're concerned that the person's level of work may put them into an early grave! There are many reasons as to why someone may say the words, "Don't work too hard!" Personally, when I hear those words I interpret them as a kind suggestion. The pastor that saw me sweating in the heat as I mowed my lawn was expressing a kind thought based on the work he perceived me doing and the conditions I was doing that work in. However, I know that he uses a riding lawnmower and perhaps he can't relate very well with my pushing a lawnmower on a hot day.

While I agree that a person shouldn't work to the point of putting their health/life in jeopardy, I certainly don't subscribe to the line of thought that a person shouldn't work hard at a task. For me, there is a fine line between "hard" and "too hard." Have I ever crossed the line and entered into the "too hard" category? Yes, I have. I recall a 100-degree day on my run across America in 2006 when I was pushing through a 35-mile segment and became somewhat dehydrated and weak. I was all alone and knew that I was running "too hard" -- so, I stopped, hydrated my body, and adjusted my pace thereafter. It's important to know when you're doing something that is "too hard" for you at the moment.

Don't be afraid of hard work. Some of the greatest successes and joys in life are experienced through hard work. Some aspects of my life that have taken considerable effort, and have been hard at times, include: obtaining my university degrees; my career; being a father; running long distances; and, some relationships. It's important to know yourself well enough to understand what level of work is "too hard" so that you don't foolishly risk your well being. Finally, keep in mind that some hard work never goes away. Yep... my lawn needs to be mowed again!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso