Why Do You Work Hard?

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I’m addicted to the feeling of success. Team success, solo success, ANY success. I love the feeling of winning – of learning, growing, and finding new ways to innovate here at Cisco.

I’m fueled by the knowledge that I’m better off because of the effort I put in to my work each day here at Cisco, and I even started calling workaholics ‘successaholics’. What’s a successaholic? To me, it’s the positively branded version of a workaholic. Someone who puts in so much time, dedication, and attention to their work – not because they’re addicted to the work. But, rather, because they’re fueled by their successes.

Simon Sinek, one of my favorite workplace gurus has said, “Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By ‘WHY,’ I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?”

Being a successaholic may be different for everyone. My boss, Melissa Caruso, who is very mindful of the ‘why’ that surrounds everything she does in life, recently had a discussion about what success means to different people. To some, success is becoming an executive at a large company, becoming an entrepreneur who reaches IPO, or grows their personal wealth to a specific amount. To some, they want fame in their industry, to be regarded as one of the best; athletes, artists, engineers. To others, success may be the health and happiness of their family.

But whatever that ‘why’ may be that drives a person – it is always the reason behind them being labeled a ‘workaholic.’

So, to anyone who enjoys being a workaholic or thinks that that label is good for your brand – I’m not telling you to work differently or work less, but I suggest that you stay mindful of what success you are addicted to that drives you. What do you want your obituary to say? What legacy do you want to leave behind?

For me, I don’t want my legacy to sound like, “Justin really was a hard worker. He was always in meetings, worked tons of overtime. He succeeded.”

I’d rather have my kids telling their grandkids, “Your grandpa was my role model. He always took challenges on with a smile and really connected with everyone he worked with. Really dry humor, but you had to laugh. He loved what he did, and he did that for us.”

The two stories are speaking of the same exact guy, and maybe even the same exact scenarios – but I want to break free from the “workaholic” stereotype. Loving what I do, and who I do it for, shouldn’t have a negative connotation to it, and that’s what I’m trying to change.

At 60, my mom still works 60 hour weeks, albeit she’s retiring next year. But, I will always be thankful to her for giving my sister and me the resources, mentorship, and love that we needed to become happy, and in turn, successful. And I know that, to her, the countless nights of coming home past midnight or falling asleep at her desk meant that she would be successful in leaving behind her legacy: us.

Oprah once said, “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it.” To me, Oprah’s not talking about finding a job that you would do for free. She’s saying that your job and your income allows you to achieve success – the results from finding something you love doing are priceless.

So, as we kick off 2018 and the New Year, don’t focus on how much you work. Instead, focus on how much you’ve succeeded. Inspire and motivate yourself with the success of years past, and imagine the goals you are working toward.

Don’t look at the work you have ahead of you. But be excited about the success that awaits, after you put the work in.

So, starting today, you are no longer a workaholic. You are a successaholic.

What is success to you? What is happiness? Figure that out, and use that to be your driving force in all that you do. That is why you work hard.

Happy New Year, Cisconians.

What are your goals for 2018?

Want to work at a company that empowers you to be your best? We’re hiring!


Author: Justin Riray
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