Most of the time, the effort and the rewards don’t come at the same time. Well, the critical rewards at least.
As Steven Pressfield teaches us, the REAL reward of our work is the work itself. As a true professional we never truly own the money, fame, or accolades of our work. We “lease” all that stuff and make payments on it each and every day with the hours of hard work we put in. I agree with Pressfield wholeheartedly when he says the only thing we have a right to is the work itself, not the fruits of our labor. It’s the only real thing we can control and call our own forever.
But back to my original point: when you put in the work, the right work, the rewards will eventually follow. But they rarely come at the same time as the worthy work is being put in. Many an acclaimed artist has started collecting dividends way past the point where they stopped putting in their groundbreaking work.
That’s why we have no choice but to put in the hard work CONSTANTLY and ENDLESSLY. That’s the only way to make success a long-lasting part of your life.
Woody Allen is the prime example of a true professional who’s never stopped putting in the work. He’s still making films at a yearly pace, and the day after he finishes principal photography on one movie he’s already writing the next one. He doesn’t care about accolades or how well the movie does at the box office. Hell, he’s never even attended an Oscar celebration in which he’s been nominated. He’s had multiple career peaks and valleys, and he’s still going through them at this advanced age. All he cares about is that the writing and filming work he puts in is what allows him to sleep well at night. And that is his reward. The money and fame will come and go without his control over it.
Let’s be like Woody Allen and cherish the actual work as our only concern. Don’t get discouraged if the outside rewards don’t show up right now when the work is actually being done. They will undoubtedly come, but as true professionals we’ll be so enthralled by the work that the outside rewards won’t matter much anymore.
And if we do end up caring about money, fame, and accolades, let’s not get lazy the second we achieve a breakthrough. All that is only temporary, and if we don’t continue the hard work it’ll be a lightning-quick 15 minutes.