Have you ever thought about the phrase ‘hard work pays off’? This phrase means that if you work hard every day or on a big project or whatever the thing of the moment is that you will get something out of it. In our work life, sometimes that means money, sometimes a new job or promotion, sometimes a corner office. According to this phrase, rewards become your motivation to work so hard. But have you ever wondered if hard work actually does pay off? And if it does, does that new corner office or raise make you feel like you accomplished something? Or better yet, does it make you want to work hard again?
This past week, I presented at a national conference for the first time, the TIES conference in Minneapolis, MN. I did this with my friend and colleague, Paul Hermes (@BVPaulHermes). We spoke about how to flip your teacher staff meetings as a means to bring more active, collaborative, and meaningful work into a staff meeting versus the typical informational sit and get. You have limited time together as a staff…are we using this time to our advantage? It is inspiring to work in a profession where many of our colleagues are continually working to improve their practices. Those who came to our session at the TIES conference were looking to improve their staff meeting practices, and this will be hard, challenging work, just like it was for us.
Paul and I also worked really hard on this presentation. Countless hours of blood, sweat and tears went into it. I don’t think most people know how much time, effort, and commitment putting together a presentation like this takes. And it gets even more complicated when you are giving a presentation with another person. But our hard work didn’t ‘pay off’. Paul and I didn’t get paid for our presentation. We didn’t gain any new information or insights to take back to our school due to our presentation. We worked through a lot of stress, meetings, debates, and anxiety, all to share this presentation with others. We never set out to do this presentation for a pay off, and I don’t think those who sat in our session will be looking for a pay off through their hard work in flipping staff meetings either. Our hard work will go well beyond a pay off.
I’ve read the book Drive by Daniel Pink and fully believe in his motivation theory that states Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose are the three strongest motivators in people’s work. I know that I didn’t work hard on this presentation because I was looking for a pay off. I worked hard on it because I had a purpose. I know what we do at Bay View for our staff meetings is right, better, and essential for our teachers, and I wanted to share that with other educational leaders. I wanted to motivate them to take up this cause for their staff and be innovators like us. I wanted to make a difference in other schools, districts, and states, because that is what education deserves. Therefore, I feel we need to rephrase ‘hard work pays off.’
Hard work lives on. That is what happens to hard work. It lives on in the conversations people have. It lives on in peoples’ hearts. It lives on in changes that come from it. It lives on through the change that happens in you. It lives on through the relationships that are made. That is what makes hard work worth it. The best thing about hard work is it doesn’t just affect you. You have the ability to influence others with your hard work. You have the ability to change the world. Motivation to work hard shouldn’t be centered around a reward, it should be centered around a purpose.
And after all of our hard work this past week and the weeks before and the weeks beyond, I’m honored. Honored to present along side Paul Hermes. Honored to meet other educators that want to change their practices. Honored to represent what we do at Bay View Middle School. Honored to have the opportunity to do hard work that we can share with others.
Because hard work doesn’t pay off, hard work lives on.