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Hard Work Vs Smart Work! How to Move From Mere Sustenance To Life Long Sustainability



Nigeria is a country where majority of the population hustle day in and day out for survival. Students hustle in school by doing a lot of “runz” here and there to ensure they pay their way through school, those who are fortunate enough to have guardians or parents to pay their fees are left with a lesser burden of hustling to pass and finally graduate from school. The same happens in different spheres of life too, people work miles from where they live and go through the strenuous traffic day in day out, in a bid to hustle for daily survival. Walking on the roads of Lagos on a busy work day or even during weekends, people are seen dashing off to various places, with the common aim of earning an income at least enough for survival. So as it is, most people are given to working really hard throughout their lives till the very point where they become feeble and unable to work.

Now the question is does working really hard throughout your life time take you beyond mere sustenance to life long sustainability? Can hustling alone create the kind of future you want when the strength to work hard is no longer available?

Now let’s do a little illustration here. A young man by the name Rufus, 23 years of age with a senior secondary school certificate gets a job as a driver at Ikoyi with a salary of 20,000 Naira every month. Rufus who lives at Alakuko in Lagos State leaves his house very early in the morning at about 4am and does not return home till about11pm every week day. Everyone who knows him would admit that he is a very hard working man who hustles for a source of living while his mates remain idle and waste away. He was lucky to have been able to retain his job and retires at the age of 60 of which his salary had risen steadily to 35,000 Naira at the point of retirement.
Now let’s see the story of Rufus’s twin brother Reuben who also got a job as a driver at the same place in Ikoyi with the same level of certificate and at the same pay rate. Reuben puts asides some of his money in order to save up for the tuition fee at a polytechnic or a university and eventually gets in and becomes a part time student. After he his done studying, he gets a higher paying job with his new certificate, he saves some more and takes some classes for some professional exams or additional qualification in his field and gets promoted. He also keeps saving up more of his resources and invests it in a business or the purchase of an asset. Reuben retires at the age of 60 too like his brother but is also entitled to a huge amount of gratuity and a monthly pension.

Now looking critically at the life of Mr Rufus and Mr Reuben with full consideration for the various responsibilities they had to handle as family men till the point they retired, do they have anything to fall back on? Who would you say lived a successful life and maximized fully all the opportunities that were available to him? Which one of the twin brothers have been able to improve on the financial status he had when he was 23? Which of them made substantial progress in life?

As ridiculous as the stories above may sound, the truth is that most of us are presently living our lives like Mr Rufus who had sincerely worked very hard throughout his life time but did not realize the importance of working smartly and cannot be considered as being fully successful. Most times we work hard day in day out, forgetting what is most important and at the end we realize we have nothing substantial to show after various years of hard work.

For a minute, stop, take some time to think and reflect on your life, where you are and where you hope to be. Determine what things are important to you and what things you need to do to move you from where you are to where you desire to be in the nearest future. Access yourself, have you been working hard or working smart.

The popular code is the Hustle symbol, but hustle without wisdom would bring you back to the same point where you started. Make changes today!

Photo Credit:

Modupe Olabenjo is an Economist with an undying love for words. She is passionate about using her writing skills to influence young people achieve their dreams and become knowledgeable change agent, most especially young women. When she’s not combining words or reading, she’s most likely engaged in one intellectual conversation or the other. She blogs at, follow her on Twitter @modupeolabenjo or send her a mail at [email protected]


  1. NaijaBiz

    August 28, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Savings is VERY important

  2. MIDES HOMES & EVENTS: 08051793971

    August 28, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful article, adding value to ourselves is very important. This is a confirmation of the next step am about to take. thanks for sharing.


    August 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Today’s swagger may be tomorrow’s stagger.

  4. bukky

    August 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    this is really a food for thought and something to really tink about. I personally av to ask myself the question everyday..”Am i where i wanna be and aw can i make it better”?….. God help us all

  5. sh

    August 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    “Most people get so busy with life doing what they need to do to get by, rather than the taking steps to get them to fulfilling their dreams”

  6. robin hood

    August 28, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    What of those who are hampered by deliberate petty office politics designed to keep the majority down. Even when they don’t want to get involved with it

  7. Olivia Twisted

    August 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Great Article. Social Mobility and Financial Stability should be an agenda for APC if they are serious. More of this BN Team. More. Lots of Love Olivia Twisted

  8. eniola

    August 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Nice right up, thanks for arousing our consciousness, a lot of people are okay with the ” i better pass my neighbor” kind of life, forgetting the future and justifying their act with the saying ”tomorrow will sort itself”. I’m sorry, if i digress – I used to know one bros who had a small barbing salon around my hostel when i was in school. He had a girl friend with whom he had a relationship of about 4 years or more according to the gist, he was so complacent with the barbing salon and refused to do other things despite being a graduate and would even pride himself for being better than some of the people he knew that were working and were married, cos they sometimes run to him for assistance. He learned his lesson when he heard of the babe’s introduction with another guy and she spelt her reasons out to him.

  9. Tess

    August 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Very sensible article!

  10. I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do? They're really saying I love you

    August 29, 2013 at 3:00 pm


  11. okbreeze

    August 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Savings might be important but investing a certain amount
    of what you have invested would make more money you are hustling to
    make. Well, financial discipline matters when it comes to this

  12. Kc

    September 1, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Thank you bella niaja. 🙂

  13. Amale

    September 11, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Modupe this is an interesting article, saving and acquiring knowledge just like what Reuben did. it is not the hours you spend but making use of what you have gotten and using it well.

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