Sep 082010

The is a Guest Post by Jeanne Eury.

I’m a member of an industry message board/listserve that is fairly active.  I rarely comment and don’t even check the messages daily but  several weeks ago I did and someone had posted this great quote attributed to Johnny Carson, “My success just evolved from working hard at the business at hand each day.” Wow.  How simple is that?

Three things in that one quote are just genius :  He worked hard, he worked hard every single day, and he worked at the business at hand each day.There is a manual for success wrapped up in that one sentence. This is what I learned from that quote that I’m trying to apply to my own business life in my success quest.

The first and most obvious thing that jumps out at me is that he worked hard.  He didn’t say he worked hard until he got famous or that he worked hard and took long vacations. He worked hard. Working hard isn’t working until you sweat or until you’re in a frenzy. Working hard is working smart. It’s persevering when you face challenges, working to fix problems that are standing in the way of productivity, and always keeping your goals clearly defined so that all of your actions are movements toward them. I now evaluate my work situation weekly. What challenges have I let take the wind out of my sails, what processes could I streamline and what have I accomplished that is tangible and quantifiable?  This is how I make sure I’m working hard and smart.

The second thing that struck me was what Carson said he worked on. He didn’t say he pursued a crazy idea every day. He didn’t say he relished his job as boss and delegated and passively managed things all day long. He very pointedly said that he worked hard at the business at hand. Sometimes this can be a real struggle for an entrepreneur. Many (personally I’d say most) entrepreneurs are risk takers and challenge seekers.  Read that as people who have the attention span of a gnat and spend a great deal of their lives having great ideas about the next big thing. For me it is probably the single biggest challenge I face. Often the business at hand isn’t fun. Often it is boring and sometimes downright unpleasant. I own a business with a small group of people. We don’t all have personal assistants and more often than not I’m doing my own filing and typing. But that is the business at hand. And I have seen that nothing big can happen if you aren’t taking care of every little detail. So I make a list every day and I’ve learned how to sync my tasks on my blackberry and my desktop. I make sure every single day that I am taking care of the business at hand so the future takes care of itself (to some degree).

Lastly he said that he took care of the business at hand each day. He didn’t say on the days he felt like it or on the days that he wasn’t on vacation. He said he worked hard each day. I’ve always been a hard worker and as a professional who has a commute-free office, I work harder and more than I ever did at an office for someone else.  But I realized I wasn’t always working the same each day.  Between my short attention span and my lack of a time clock I was always working some days much harder/longer/productively than others. Consistency is key to success and I didn’t always understand that. In the few weeks as I’ve been working on changing my habits I’ve found that working at a steady pace each day, on a consistent list of evenly distributed priorities is far more productive for me personally than working several 15 hour days like a fiend and then just being bored of it for the day after.

I’ve made a schedule, I keep a goal for each day and I make sure that I keep myself from daydreaming too much about the next big project instead of really consistently relishing the details of the business at hand. What do you think of the success manual masquerading as a simple quote?


Celebrating success and accomplishment in the move to the coveted corner office-it just happens to be in the basement of my home!!

This article was originally posted on Jeanne’s blog, From My Basement Corner Office..