7 Truths About Hard Work (With Quotes to Support)

Macgill Davis

Hard work is the key to success. No matter what industry you work in, you cannot achieve anything of substance without working hard. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of 7 truths about hard work, with inspirational quotes from people far more successful than me to support them.

1. Hard work isn’t about time spent.

“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” - Ariana Huffington

When we think of hard work, we often think of quantity over quality. It’s easy to become consumed by the wrong metrics when tracking hard work and assume we just need to work harder for more hours to achieve our goals. While hard work is often about putting in the time, you should always focus on producing great work over good work. You can never lose sight of balance and health in order to avoid burning out. Producing great work requires a rested and healthy mind. You can use a time tracker like Rize to track the quality of your work and ensure you aren’t overworking yourself.

2. Hard work requires sacrifice.

“Nothing worth having comes easy.” - Theodore Roosevelt
“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” - Booker T. Washington
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. - Muhammad Ali

True hard work comes at a cost. Every minute spent working harder is a minute that could have spent elsewhere. Remember that fact when deciding what to work on. You must be passionate in what you want to succeed in because it will require sacrifice.

3. Overnight successes do not exist.

“If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.” – Michelangelo
“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” - Steve Jobs

From the outside every successful startup or entrepreneur appears as an overnight success. The reality is that overnight successes do not exist. Those successes were created through hours of hard work that no one witnessed. So keep working hard, even when results don’t appear immediately.

4. Hard work is more about your habits than your goals.

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” - Peter Drucker

When working hard, we often focus on lofty goals. The truth is that your daily habits are more indicative of success than goals, visualizations, or affirmations. The best way to build a strong work ethic is focusing on developing strong daily habits. I wrote about a few daily habits that can improve your productivity and put you on the path to success.

5. Hard work and luck go hand-in-hand.

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” - Thomas Jefferson
“Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” - Ray Kroc 

Luck is being in the right place at the right time. Hard work puts you in the right place. The more work you put in the more likely you are to be present when lightning strikes.

6. The greatest achievements can’t be accomplished alone.

"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." - Michael Jordan
“Success is best when it’s shared.” - Howard Schultz

The most successful hard workers are team players. There’s a ceiling to what you can achieve alone. No accomplishment is out of reach when you work with others. Working on your skills in teamwork is one of the most important things you can do for success. 

7. Hard work is about long-term persistence.

“It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.” - Babe Ruth
"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." - Confucius
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” - Maya Angelou
"It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up." - Vince Lombardi

Hard work is a long game. Persistence is key and hard work pays off in the long-term. Success is a lot of hard work and persistence.


“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is hard work.” - Stephen King, American author
“Working hard overcomes a whole lot of other obstacles. You can have unbelievable intelligence, you can have connections, you can have opportunities fall out of the sky. But in the end, hard work is the true, enduring characteristic of successful people.” -  Marsha Evans

In today’s world, everyone is looking for shortcuts to success. Following the hard way sometimes goes against common sense but it’s the one proven path to success. This is true in entrepreneurship as it is in all aspects of life. You can read any number of motivational quotes and hard work quotes on LinkedIn but the only way to succeed is to get out there and get to work.

Photo by Jesse Orrico

Macgill Davis is the cofounder of Rize - a simple, intelligent time tracker that improves focus and helps build better work habits.