You Don’t Need to Be a Genius to Be Successful, What You Need is to Work Really Really Hard

Feb 11, 2017

More often than not we look for shortcuts in life. We look for easy openings and cite aphorism about the advantage of going for the low hanging fruits. We are the generation who are taught to fake it until we make it. We look around us and we see a lot of young successes. We spend hours reading about millionaires and ten tips to becoming a millionaire every day. Our days are driven by the likes and selfies, comments and shares. Although we struggle daily, we tend to believe that we can find shortcuts to success and life.

Arif Khan
Arif Khan, CEO, IDLC | click image for more

But in reality, success or life is a long game. As Debbie Millman poignantly puts it, “anything worthwhile takes a long time to happen”. Life is complicated. It is unrealistic to expect anything material to happen without doing anything material in exchange. In an interview with Future Startup, Arif Khan, CEO and Managing Director of IDLC Finance Limited, pointed out this exact point.

Mr. Khan is a solid doer. Started his career in 1991, he has an astounding body of work, and over the past 26 years of his career, Mr. Khan had played pivotal role in the lives of a number of private companies, where he worked in different capacities starting from Probationary Officer to CEO and also in public sector as a Commissioner of Securities Exchange Commission where he headed the Demutualization Project of Dhaka Stock Exchange along with many other big projects.

Mr. Khan knows a thing or two about life and success. He has seen and experienced things in life and he understands what it takes to move forward in life. In the middle of the interview, Mr. Khan said about making progress in life:

The most important thing that I have learned is that there's no shortcut in life. And there is a very little importance of being a genius. Most of the things we do in life are no rocket science. You don’t need to be a genius to be successful, what you need is to work really really hard, persistently. You need to put your everything into your work with an unwavering regularity.

Then he continues to address the work ethic problem most of us have. We tend to work hard for one day and then go ahead to enjoy the rest of the week. We tend work hard for an hour and then surf the internet for the rest of the day.

Mr. Khan suggests, inconsistent hard work does not yield a good result. It does not matter if work hard one day in a week or one hour in a day. It is about persistent hard work despite the difficulties and challenges and hardships that make all the difference. He goes on:

It doesn't help if you work hard for 3 days straight, then sleep for the next three days. It doesn't work that way. You have to consistently work hard and have to consistently compete with your own standard in order to excel and move forward.

The culture we live in proposes a very disturbing idea, it tells us that the purpose or the ultimate goal of life is to be happy. Everyone of us is being hypnotized by this idea that life is all about happiness. We work for a living not because we love work, enjoy it, there are exceptions of course, or we find meaning in our work but we need to make money in order to buy happiness. What a dangerous idea?!

Life is largely about work we do, not because we have to do it but because we manifest ourselves into the work we do. It is work that gives meaning to our lives. Instead of looking for ways to avoid work and find happiness elsewhere, we should realize that meaning is way more an important goal than mere happiness. And hard work that we put in every day makes our life worthwhile.

Lead image: Image by Shane Albuquerque

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Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at

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