Is Working Hard Enough?

By Ron Pohl

Monday March 6, 2017

Everyone seems to accept that hard work is an essential rung on the ladder of success. However, is it enough?

I have been fortunate throughout my career to have mentors who have given me invaluable guidance and advice. Perhaps that’s why I have always been passionate about education and empowering the next generation of industry leaders. If I could impart any one piece of counsel to up and coming professionals, it would be that hard work without focus and a commitment to big ideas is just that – hard work.

To reach the next level of success, I urge people to work with a singular focus, as is discussed in the book, The One Thing. What exactly does that mean? It means avoiding distractions, plotting out what you need to do each day, week, and month to reach your goal, and working toward that goal with relentless drive and commitment.

Working with a singular focus also means realizing that there will be inevitable failures and stumbles along the way, but rather than giving up, using them as catalysts to try even harder. For example, it took Henry Ford three attempts before launching the successful Ford Motor Company, which would go on to revolutionize the automobile industry. Before Michael Jordan became a sports icon and legend, he was cut from his varsity high school basketball team, a stinging defeat for a young man with big aspirations. And, while Steve Jobs is remembered for transforming the computer and phone industries, he first dropped out of college and, at age 30, was fired from the company he founded.

What else do these examples have in common? They thought big and differently – another part of the success equation. They each transformed the sport or industry they came from, leaving it far richer and advanced than when they started. Like these trailblazers, I urge you to think audaciously. Don’t limit yourself by worrying about whether your idea is realistic. Leave that part to the naysayers. Rather, remember that every single major achievement in our history began with a big idea that others said wasn’t possible.

One of the things I love the most about the hospitality industry is that you can see these ideas playing out every day. Best Western’s founder, M.K. Guertin, started our brand as a small collection of roadside motels, setting it on the path to become one of the world’s most recognizable travel brands. So many of today’s leaders started out at entry-level positions and through focus, hard work, and a commitment to thinking big and differently, have leaped to the highest positions within their companies. David Kong, Best Western’s President & CEO, started his journey as a dishwasher in a Hawaii hotel. I began my own career as a front desk clerk at a Marriott hotel.

Success doesn’t happen by chance, it happens by choice. It happens by refusing to place mental handcuffs on what we think we can achieve. It’s a daily commitment to working hard, never losing focus, and acknowledging that what you choose today, determines your success tomorrow. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”