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Being a Star - Either Put In More Hours Than Others, or Start Eliminating Stuff (But Stop Whining)...

Being a star - everybody wants to be one, but few want to (or perhaps can) do what it takes to be one.  I'm reminded of the fact that most stars become stars because they simply outwork all the people who won't do what it takes to become world class.  Ryan Estis reminded me of that this week:

"Bono is a Rockstar.  I was fortunate enough to see the U2 360 Concert recently.  And it was Passion on Purpose on display.  And all of that Passion and Preparation translated into a monster Performance. Its a real pleasureBono u2 watching artists, who take so much pride in their craft, perform at the top of their game.  In those moments of witnessing near flawless execution, that seems so natural,  it can also minimize the countless hours of real hard effort that comes first.  Bono told a great story on a chilly night in Norman, Oklahoma a couple weeks ago about having played Norman 26 years prior about a mile down the road.  In a small bar, to a small crowd, as relative unknowns.  He simply said “it took 26 years for us to move a mile down the road”…….to a sold out stadium of 60,000 mesmerized fans.  What a journey.  What a great gig.  But it sure didn’t start out that way.  In fact, in took 26 years of Passion on Purpose.

I am reading the book Outliers.  Where Malcom Gladwell ( puts forth the notion that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve expertise or mastery.  Real hard effort.  Real big sacrifice.  And real tough to achieve Rockstar Status if you don’t really love what you do.  Being a Rockstar in your own chosen vocation isn’t really all that different.  You typically get out what you put in.  The edge usually goes to those willing to give a little more than most.  A mentor and friend continually reminds me to think about doing the 1% that the 99% isn’t or simply isn’t willing to do.  What he likes to call “the hard yards”.  And I woke up this morning taking my own self assessment:  Have I put in my 10,000 hours?  Was I willing to earn the hard yards?"

So, if you want to be a star, you have to put in the time, right?  What about work/life balance?

Work/life balance is a choice.  You won't be able to be your version of Bono with work/life balance as your goal.  More and more, I run into super sharp people who are amazed at the entitlement culture of talented folks who say they want to be stars, but won't put in the time to outwork others and are outraged when told that's what it takes.  It's an interesting thing.  The folks who are talented say they want to be a star and don't think they should have to sacrifice anything to get there. The leaders who mentor them just shake their heads as they witness the disconnect (most of the headshakers outworked others and combined it with their natural talents and strengths to get where they are).

Are there other options?  Just one...

If you don't want to outwork others on the way to being a star, you need to start eliminating things that you don't think matter, the things you can get away with not doing, not being involved with at work.  Create the time within whatever work ethic you have, then use the hours you gained from elimination to pursue a niche that's going to make you a star to your organization or the world at large.  I'm reading the "4 Hour Workweek", and I've described it as "Getting Things Done", but much, much meaner.  Instead of getting organized and working a system ala GTD, the 4 Hour Workweek is going to teach you not to index those activities, but instead to simply stop doing them.  Just stop.

You want to be a star.  Either start outworking people, or tell them their priorities aren't yours.  Either be the hardest working person in <show>business, or the nastiest.

Or stop whining.  You've got three choices actually.


Tim Sackett

KD -

Outstanding post. Interesting that as HR Pros we are suppose to be the work-life balance gatekeepers for our organizations - yet the data shows superstars probably aren't the most balanced individuals, and as HR Pros we are suppose to be developing the most talented organization we can. That dichotomy alone makes this entire concept a very interesting discussion topic...

Jessica Lee

interesting discussion topic indeed. wondering though... tim, what makes you think HR is to be the work-life balance gatekeeper? i'm not sure this is something i've ever seen as an area i own. have you? do you now? just wondering where is that coming from?

David Christensen

Individuals need to be accountable for everything in their own lives. Is HR responsible for getting my children to day care on time every morning? Do I need to consult with HR before I buy that fancy sports car to satisfy an early mid-life crisis? The answer to these questions is obvious to all so I would also be interested in finding out when I became a work-life balance gatekeeper. What are we missing here Tim?

Vish Agashe


Great post KD. Bottom line is that success and greatness is earned and rarely bestowed upon people without the sacrifice and hard work. When it comes to work/life balance, I guess it is really up to individuals as to how they plan and focus. People can make fewer compromises in their life activities and earn the success they desire little slowly or vice versa. Ultimately it’s all about choice and decisions made by individuals that decide how and where they end up in the ladder of their aspirations.

Vish Agashe

Mike Haberman

One of my favorite sayings is "You can do whatever you want, you only have to be willing to live with the consequences." I think is the best lesson you can get in life-work balance. You want to work hard to succeed, then there may be family consequences. You want to eliminate tasks and/or people then there may be relationship consequences. You do neither then you may not get the rewards you want.

Want or desire cannot hold a candle to "DO."

Maria Helm

Success is important only to the extent that it puts one in a position to do more things one likes to do

Becki Gagnon

Very thought provoking post. Agree with Tim Sackett as well. In my experience it seems that since HR is “helping” people in their careers…it naturally (or maybe unnaturally!) rolls into “helping” people in their lives. This leads to the gatekeeper of life balance.

However, if you want to be true star-you must dedicate a large portion of your life to your passion/talent. Even the process of reducing your work load requires you to take time to determine what to eliminate.

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