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HARD WORK VS. SOFT WORK
ARE YOU READY TO MAKE THE SHIFT?
My father was a bricklayer for most of his life. I remember being on the job site as a kid watching him mix mortar in the hot sun as he built walls, and I could tell it was grueling work. As I grew older, my dad moved on to general contracting, and I started working for him. My brother and I started on job sites doing manual labor like ditch digging or other strenuous jobs. It was during this time that my dad started to move away from hard work and started gravitating toward soft work — managerial duties and less hands-on tasks. He certainly had the expertise and the ability to continue construction, but the shift he made was very intentional. While his career was profitable, it became clear to my father that hard work wouldn’t take him where he wanted to go later in life. Rather than continue backbreaking labor, he started investing in real estate. His experience in hard work helped him develop the characteristics necessary to be successful in soft work. The more he moved the pendulum, the more income he generated. I watched him make more money in retirement than he ever did laying bricks. Everyone loves the idea of waking up to just soft work, but that doesn’t spontaneously occur. You can’t jump to soft work without going through the rigors of hard work. The adjustment to soft work is difficult for many entrepreneurs, but an even greater obstacle lies in the decision to make the jump in the first place. I see many of my customers trapped in the hard work stage, unable to transition to the future they want for their business. In most cases, it’s not because they don’t want a more detached role or a focus on leadership; rather, they struggle to negotiate the required shift in mindset. I’m familiar with this mentality because it used to feature prominently in my life. I used to make fun of people who worked in an office when I was younger. I wrote off the notion
of desk jobs because I could never see life beyond hard work. I loved labor and found fulfillment in it, but the more I looked at my dad’s path, the greater understanding I obtained about the necessity for making this adjustment. While I’d like to say I’ve shifted entirely to embracing the concept of soft work, it can still be a challenge for me to this day. Most business owners struggle with the mindset shift to leadership because their self-reliance is what took their business to its initial stages of success. They pour their hearts into building something great for their lives, and when there’s something intertwined with every part of your life, it’s nearly impossible to let go of control. In the last cover, we mentioned the two types of people who start a business, using a house as a visual aid. There are front-of- the-house people — customer-facing positions — and back-of- the-house people — process-oriented jobs. You eventually need to hire someone to complement your weaknesses so that the company runs efficiently. Both types of people are necessary, but leaving the house to be managed by someone else entirely is a thought that many entrepreneurs don’t even consider. The idea that no one is going to be as invested in the success of the business as the owner permeates decision-making and puts a cap on individual accomplishments. Most leaders believe they are saving their company by staying actively involved in all aspects when all they are actually doing is limiting their opportunity to move to soft work. Do you have a plan for developing passive income through retirement? Some of us are bricklayers for life, and others are more successful in retirement. Making the shift requires the proper mindset and the ability to relinquish control. Are you open to transitioning your life to soft work?
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