Working ‘smart’ isn’t enough.

Embracing Effort in an Era of Illusions

Abhinit Singh
2 min readJul 10, 2023
Illustration generated using Leonardo AI

‘Work smart, not hard.’


The internet has plenty of articles on pundits advocating for ‘smart work’ as a wormhole to success. Do you know why? Because the idea sells. Disillusioned netizens desperately seek to believe that there’s an alternative to hard labor.

It is astonishing that in my twenty-two years of existence on this planet, I have not come across a single inspiring success story built solely on ‘smart’ work. Or is it that there is none?

The idea has its comforts: you could skimp on work hours and smirk it off as an entitlement borne out of your superior intelligence, condescending to the poor souls that slog their way to achievements.

Who is ‘smart’ exactly? The genius in every team who feels they’re above sweat because they have a mind to generate ideas and a mouth to utter them? Wasn’t that previously called ‘laziness’?

The problem is that of misrepresentation. What should have been a call to higher standards has become an excuse for blatant escapism. Smartness could have been a cultivated trait to produce better outcomes through persistent efforts; it was twisted to represent entitlement for the self-professed new age intelligentsia.

It is a modern trait: ten-minute grocery deliveries, over-the-top entertainment, on-click home services, etc. We’re spoiled.

But we’re not spoiled for free. There’s a price to pay. And the ones that spoil us are working overtime to extract that price.

Whoever built that delivery app worked weekends for years, and the bestselling author who advocates for fewer work hours probably spent sleepless nights perfecting their manuscript.

Dr. Kalam and his team toiled overtime for years to put the SLV into orbit. No reason to think they weren’t smart, correct?

The truth is, no one believes that working ‘smart’ is enough. We realize it’s a fallacy. But the idea is comforting; it validates the fantasist and peddles brief escapes to the industrious. Much like alcohol.

Every society needs a distinction between the elite and the others. The rigid ceilings of the old are vanishing, and new lines might be drawn between the spoiled and the realists.

Trust in good old hard work.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, also read about why I love autobiographies.