Sign up for weekly blog
Stephen Mayo | 3 Types of Hard Work

3 Types of Hard Work

Nov. 26, 2023

Hard work can take many forms.  Here's one breakdown I find useful:

  1. physically demanding - manual labor, an intense workout, or working back-to-back shifts at the hospital. 
  2. intellectually demanding - solving a hard technical problem or designing a better org structure. 
  3. emotionally demanding - making big decisions, saying no to people, asking for the sale or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.


A task can be a combination of these. For example, sustaining an intellectually demanding activity over several hours takes endurance, adding a physical component. 

Most people have preferences about which demands they like and which they resist.  One person may be very willing to face physical demands but shy away from a complex task like fixing software code that's broken.  Another person may be happy to tackle the messy code but averse to making decisions that will disappoint others.

What I find most useful when facing a difficult challenge is to ask myself what kind of hard is this?   The answer can help me prepare myself properly, or find the resources I need to handle it better.  If it's physically difficult, maybe I need extra workouts in advance, or a good night's sleep beforehand.  If it's an intellectual challenge maybe I'll need a quiet  uninterrupted place to focus, or a colleague who can offer ideas.  If it's emotionally challenging, maybe I need a reminder to focus on what I can control and stay open-minded.

If I fail to recognize an emotionally demanding task for what it is, I'm liable to look for a solution that doesn't actually help.

For example:


When things get tough, ask yourself : "what kind of hard is this?".  You may save yourself a lot of time and get better results.


View all blogs
Previous Blog Next Blog