Conquering The Economy: Why Hard Works Beats Intelligence


Finding a job and/or keeping a job in this economy has little to do with how smart we are. It has everything to do with our perseverance and our ability to perform. There are a few exceptions to this rule (Dr. House on the popular TV show “House” comes to mind, but then again, he’s a fictional character.) Thus, most of us have to rely on our creativity, ingenuity, and unfailing work ethic if we’re going to succeed in this economic climate.

Let’s do a case study on two recent college graduates:

      1. Student #1 went to a popular state school. He received a decent GPA of 3.0 in a rigorous business curriculum. Although he likely could have had a higher GPA, he was responsible for paying for his education, which meant he worked a 40 hour a week job at a local restaurant in addition to going to class. One night he did an exceptional job at waiting a table for a high powered CEO. The student was professional, kind, and courteous. He showed great patience with the CEO’s dinner guest who was rude and picky. At the end of the night, after learning the CEO’s profession, the student/waiter confidently asked for his contact information. He was later hired.
      2. Student #2 went to a top 20 school known for producing some of the best minds in the country. He rarely had to study in college because of his uncanny intelligence. He could put in the bare minimum of effort and still receive A’s. He could have done research or completed publications, but those things required a bit too much dedication. He got a few e-mails about job fairs who sponsored those coming to town to do recruiting, but he assumed he would get a job through his professor, who promised to recommend him to a friend. When he graduated, his friends secured jobs at consulting companies and went on to law school. He graduated and waited months to hear from his professor’s friend, but the offer never came. He was left having to scurry for a job and had to live with his parents.

The difference in these two students is that one took control of his future, while the other waited for his future to come to him. It doesn’t matter how smart either one of these students are. At the end of the day, all that matters is that they can get a job to support themselves and their families in the future.

Unlike the past few decades, this economy does not reward those who are simply smart. Companies care too much about the bottom line. They can’t keep an employee just because he has a bright idea from time to time. They want to hire people who are willing to do whatever it takes to keep the company moving forward. They need people who are willing to hit the ground running.

What we have to do to make ourselves competitive is to place ourselves in those bold situations. We have to ask for jobs outright. We have to be on our best behavior wherever we go, since you never know who you’re going to meet. We have to cherish the jobs we do have and make sure we have a good attitude while we’re there, since you never know when the next layoff will be. Essentially, we have to make ourselves irreplaceable, not because of how smart we are but for how hard we’re willing to work.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons