It’s Not the Effort That Matters, But How Good the Final Product Actually Is

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash

People are obsessed with telling you how they got things done.

They’ll tell you how long it took, how many people worked on it, where they had to travel to, the iterations — all this shit. But none of that matters if the final product isn’t actually any good.

And if it is good; cool, you worked hard. That’s what you’re supposed to do. But working hard and being successful isn’t that interesting. Not working hard and being successful— now that’s interesting!

Because the truth is, working hard is kind of overrated. If you’re used to working hard, then working hard won’t feel like anything at all.

Take music, for example— four out of five hit records go like this: “The idea just came to us. We did the whole song in 10 minutes. That was pretty much it.”

Most musicians aren’t planning for hits to happen like that. They spend hours working on other songs only for their one great song to be done instantaneously.

Which song is better though, the one they worked exceptionally hard on, or the one that just came to them? The hit record, of course.

Ultimately, effort does not denote quality. You can make something terrible in 12 hours, or you can make something great in 12 minutes. The history of many great ideas is that they happened accidentally, without much thought or effort at all.

That isn’t to suggest that the hard work preceding the great idea doesn’t count — it does. You need to put that 12 hours in to get to the 12 minutes. But it’s often the thing that is effortless that resonates the most.

Written by

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store