One thing I learned in law school is that to be successful sometimes you have to outwork the competition. Start preparing sooner. Pull longer hours. And study harder than everyone else in your class. However,if the only reason that you’re winning is because you’re winning more hours, are you actually winning in the end, given the tradeoff of time and other opportunity costs? That’s one questions that’s been on my mind a lot these days, especially here in business school.
Personally I tend to pull longer hours than most people I know. On one hand, I don’t have a background in finance or quantitative subjects like many of my classmates at Kellogg do. Likewise, I also tend to take part in a pretty large number of activities, probably more than average, so I often have a pretty large number of things on my plate.
I’ve recently come to realize that one problem with relying on time is that it doesn’t scale very well. That means that working 20 hours a day at work will never be twice as good as working 14 a day. Similarly, at some point, you can’t actually work longer hours so there’s a cap to your ability.
On the other hand, one thing business school teaches you is to work smarter. Business school gives you less time, more options, more distractions, and more indecision than many of us have ever had before. And often you’re in a position where prohibited from working more hours on some projects but still have to get it done.
Over the past few years, Ive come to find that working smarter, and finding scale are the most critical things to learn because it teaches you a new and better way of competing. And if you can improve the way you compete, and still work harder than the rest, you might just be unstoppable in your new ventures.