Smart workers and hard workers

In the past, workers are told to work hard, be loyal to the company then they may get a reward. As technology is changing quickly, working hard is NOT enough but you must learn to work “smart”. When you work hard, you usually put in long hours to get the work done, but when you work smart, you set priorities, know your strengths and weaknesses, and keep learning new things to keep your skills up to date. The knowledge and skills you learn in school only open the door of opportunity but to advance in your career you need to continue learning. If you only do what you know, even you work hard, you may not be able to keep your job when things change.

In the past, workers often work alone and compete with others for reward and promotion. If you are better than others, you could win. Today, no one can work alone because everything is teamwork. You are smart if you learn collaboration skills and work well with others. If you work hard as you want to be the best, you may be rejected by the team and lose your job.

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In the past, loyalty is important as most workers would work for one company for a long time (Lifetime employment.) Today, you must keep an open mind about the new opportunity. If you are not happy with your job. If your manager does not treat you well, you should look for another job. If you are smart and have the skills, you do not need to work in a bad situation that makes you feel not appreciated.

In the past, workers who work hard often end up in serious health problems from stress and overwork. The reason is many of them do not have a choice as they are afraid of losing a job. Today, if you are constantly learning and have the skills that the market needs, you should not worry about finding a job. You know how to stay healthy because no amount of success or money can replace your health.

In the past, workers always worry about keeping their job and getting fire means a disaster for their family. Today, if you read more, learn more, know more about the job market. You never worry because you do not stay still but always moving toward better opportunities to achieve your goals.

In the past, workers who fail are labeled “incompetent” and being looked down upon by others. This sentiment starts early in the education system where competition is designed for exams where success and failure is everything. Today smart workers know that failure is not an end but an opportunity to learn and improve. If they give up when they fail, they will never learn anything.

In the past, workers often work hard and hope for a reward such as a promotion or monetary. But it is only a hope, as some may get it, and some may not. Today, smart workers are more realistic and do not have such a false hope. They keep their skills updated all the time by focusing on the market needs. They learn from multiple sources and acquire skills that only a few know so they have the advantage to get what they want. They can choose where to work, which company to work for, and what compensation they can get. They know their value and negotiate for their reward. In this technology-driven world, these smart workers are the force that drives all the changes.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University