Hard Work, Plus

In September 2007, J. Cole stood outside Roc-the-Mic studios in the rain for 2 hours waiting for Jay-Z to hand him a beats tape for American Gangster. The second Jay-Z saw it, he said, “I don’t want that, give it to one of them.”

That’s why self-promotion is, understandably, one of the most dislikeable parts of the creative process—it’s full of rejection and indifference, it can feel self-aggrandizing, and it’s often labeled as bullshit work.

In her book Edge, HBS professor Laura Huang she points out that effort and hard work on its own is necessary but not sufficient in achieving desired outcomes, introducing the concept of “Hard Work, Plus.” 

Hard Work, Plus: “You need hard work, but when so many decisions are driven by the outside perceptions of others, you also need to know how to allocate effort. 

“When you learn to identify what these perceptions are, how they operate, and the attributions that people are making about your character and abilities, you can empower yourself to face challenges with grace and to smooth your path to success. You give yourself the ability to delight others, open up opportunities, and strategically guide the interactions that you have with others.”

I shared a few excerpts of Edge, along with two other books, in the latest issue of my Best of Books newsletter. Sign up here for the next ones!

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