Some people are lazy bums. They do just enough to get by and would prefer to watch others work rather than lift a finger. They’re the kind of folks who’d step over something on the floor rather than bend down to pick it up. These sorry individuals watch the clock and push paper all day, only to go home to unwind from their “tough” day at the office — before turning into couch potatoes.
These lazy folks give new meaning to the term “deadweight.” Their only skill is coming up with creative excuses about why they can’t (or better yet, won’t) work. They’re experts at flying under the radar and evading responsibility. And, although everyone knows their game, lazy people don’t really care what others think of their antics because they have no shame. (Ouch!)
Life Is Not a Spectator Sport
Please don’t misunderstand . . . lazy people aren’t stupid. On the contrary, many lazy people are highly talented — they just don’t apply themselves and live up to their potential. In fact, some lazy people find ingenious ways to make the simplest task look complicated. This enables them to appear busy while escaping work. Other folks are brilliant at first finding, and then coaxing, other people to do their chores for them. (Think Tom Sawyer.) This behavior can be damaging on several levels:
When people duck their responsibilities at home or work, others are forced to bear a greater burden. Plus, it’s not fair to ask diligent employees to babysit them to ensure that they’re doing their jobs properly –– or at all.
Lazy behavior can increase animosity, create stress, and ultimately lead to burnout in those unfortunates left to do the heavy lifting.
Furthermore, because lazy people have time on their hands, they often form “peanut galleries” where they complain and criticize those doing the work rather than being productive themselves. Of course, it’s easier to complain about a problem than to find a solution; it’s simpler to shoot holes in someone else’s work than to generate your own ideas; it’s less work to assign blame than to accept responsibility for getting the job done.
The bottom line is that lazy people are deadweight, living off the good graces of others. In the process they turn friends and colleagues into long-distance runners wearing 50-pound backpacks. Well, it’s time for these lazy folks to get up and pull their own weight.
Success from the start. A strong work ethic must be instilled in our children at an early age. Included are personal traits such as honesty, character, dependability, initiative, confidence, diligence, respect, efficiency, and teamwork. Not to forget “hard work” — a key element of success. When it comes to learning a new dance step, hitting a baseball, playing the piano, doing well in school, as in many other things in life, exceptional performance is often attributed to hard work. It’s important to encourage our kids to do their best, while providing them with constructive feedback and positive reinforcement along the way. By guiding them toward good values and a strong work ethic, we’re equipping them for a lifetime of satisfaction and growth.
No easy answers. Unfortunately, at times our society will counter your best efforts by promoting “easy street” alternatives such as get-rich-quick schemes and seven-day diets as the miracle cures for all our problems. There are no easy answers. Every professional athlete or Broadway actor made it to the top of his or her career through skill, dedication, and hard work. We must stress the fact that instant gratification, shoot-from-the-hip behavior, and other shortcuts are never a substitute for hard work. If you want the finer things in life, it’s up to you to earn them.
Demand personal responsibility. Each individual must decide how much of an effort he or she is willing to invest to achieve success. As the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” When we turn our backs and ignore lazy behavior in order to avoid conflict or in an attempt to be politically correct, we are as much to blame as the offender. Furthermore, when we reward people for lazy behavior, we eliminate any incentive for them to work hard. It’s important to note that there is a difference between not being able to work and choosing not to work. In the latter case, tough love often encourages the best outcomes.
Stop enabling laziness. Everyone should be rewarded based on the contribution made and the value provided — no one should be given a handout or rewarded merely for showing up. When everyone is rewarded equally for his or her effort, regardless of the contribution, we foster mediocrity. When organizations give equal across-the-board raises, grant promotions based on tenure, or award government contracts based on political patronage, we penalize the hardworking people and organizations that operate efficiently and provide exceptional value. By helping people too much, and turning a blind eye to their laziness, we reinforce the behavior that renders them increasingly helpless over time. The result is that lazy people make our businesses less competitive and our public sector less efficient.
Give it your best
“Giving it your best shot” must embody everything that you do and represent all that you are. It means waking up each day and living life to its fullest. It doesn’t mean that you should compare your best to another’s best. In fact, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does. It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being honest with yourself and always putting forth your best effort. It’s about using your God-given talents and doing the best job you’re capable of.
When you live life this way, you create a higher standard for yourself and for those around you. By raising the bar, you’ll not only strive to be better, but you’ll feel better about yourself as well. Who’s lazy now?
50 Things Money Can’t Buy
The Many Faces of Greed
It’s All About Me
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Sweetie Berry says
I find there is a strong connection between laziness and arrogance….not ignorance. Many in organizations I work with will imply that they are not the person to do x, y, or z because of some reason that simply shouldn’t apply in a workforce situation. How many people in our area have been without jobs because they would not choose to accept jobs offered….which might have led to a better situation if they had been humble enough to learn and diligently do the employment offered.
Christopher Avery says
Well put Frank.
The most responsible — as well as successful and happy — people I know understand the hard/easy paradox. This paradox says that if you want to take it easy later then do the hard things now, and conversely, if you do the easy things now you’ll have a hard time later.
I’ve invested 20 years researching and applying the only how-to approach for understanding, taking, and teaching responsibility. I agree you can’t make anyone, including yourself, take responsibility. But you can invite it and allow it. Here’s an introduction: http://christopheravery.com/responsibility-process
Dan Fonseca says
I can’t help but think of incentives when I read this. Often times, yes, it is the individual who decides what to do but many times it’s an economic question of incentives. Why should they do anything at all for that matter? How can you incentivize others to do great work? Is that what a leader does?
Frank Sonnenberg says
Sweetie, Christopher, Dan
Thanks so much for your thoughts.
Sweetie, you make a great point. I’ve always been taught NOT to be limited by an organization chart. If something needs fixing, fix it 🙂
Christopher. Thanks so much for providing a link to your site. I looked at it this morning. VERY interesting.
Dan, Your question is wonderful. Unfortunately it can’t be answered in a short note. I promise to write a post that answers it. I’ll let you know when it’s finished.
Have a great day!
Leyane Jerejian says
Great post, lazy really rubs me the wrong way. You mentioned Personal Responsibility and I just loved reading that!
We are all personally responsible for what we do- and what we don’t do, whether we realize it or not. There are two sides of the coin like you mentioned, and not holding others accountable for their laziness, or worse, rewarding their laziness is an equal offender.
“If everyone in the world did what I am about to do, would the world be a better place or a worse place?”
Another great post!
I wonder if lazy people ever had that feeling the rest of us have – that heightened sense of achievement, personal fulfillment and satisfaction of a job well done. I’m no 5-star chef, but for some reason I always felt that something I slaved over in my own kitchen was always far better than anything I could have picked up on my way home – no matter how long/tough/hard/busy my work day was. Do the lazy ever feel that sense of accomplishment?
I never read a book by someone who wrote about wining a ton of money in a lottery. Coming upon a heap of money in such a quick way gets you nothing but… money. However, many great stories are penned about working hard and earning your way. Why? because that leaves you with much much more than wealth on paper. Laziness can be that difference between a book about a character and a book about a life filled with character.
Vitaly Lenkin says
Agreed if we talking about life in common)) You know, Frank, there’s a Exchange model presents in business.. That have got the two Side for exchange values.. That’s good to balancing this Exchange. Without that balance we are difficult to talking about Ethic things.
Roxana Jones says
It is certainly the best time to get out of our comfort zones where we will never find our God-given talents as you well call them my dear Frank. Laziness is caused by the fear we have been conditioned to believe in… I’m talking about the type of fear that is not letting our society to empower its individuals by discovering that out of the comfort zone is where life truly begins! 🙂
Great post Frank, thanks so much!
Jen Kuhn says
I agree, many of the positive, pro-social traits you mention are instilled during childhood. Adults have an obligation to children to create opportunities where their efforts can be recognized and rewarded. Unfortunately, many adults ignore reinforcing effort and focus solely on the final result. It’s as if “winning” becomes the goal, rather than learning, striving, practicing and developing skills.
In the workplace, an employee is lazy because it’s allowed. This is a leadership/coaching issue. People often focus their energies on the person, rather than the lack of coaching that is necessary to prevent or stop this behavior. Yes, the “lazy” person is responsible for their own choices. Ultimately, it’s the leadership of the organization that determines whether or not laziness is an acceptable part of the culture.
Frank Sonnenberg says
Leyane, Marc, Vitaly, Roxana, Jen
Thanks so much for your thoughts.
Leyane, you’re right on the mark. When we don’t hold people accountable for laziness we’re lowering the bar, and penalizing, everyone else.
Marc, your comment is BRILLIANT. You just gave me a great idea for a new post. Thanks!
Vitaly, thanks for your thoughts. It’s wonderful to know that this post resonates in Russia 🙂
Roxana, you make a very interesting point. . . . “out of the comfort zone is where life truly begins.”
Jen, you make a great point. Continuous improvement is also a win. Plus, when leaders lower their expectations they get what they ask for.
Have a wonderful day!
Jordan Kimmel says
Another great thought provoker!
Being lazy is a drag- being with someone who is lazy is just as big of a drag! The importance of accountability- removing the lazy partner quickly once you realize they are lazy is a key to having a high performing team.
We try to instill the concept of “hard work pays off” to our children. There truly are on shortcuts. Once you realize that- being lazy is just not an alternative- at least not around our house or our offices.
Being lazy is a useless thing that a person can do.If she or he is lazy then there is a posibility of becoming fat.
Relaxed people create a “stressful environment”? How? In fact, they do the exact opposite, they create a mellow environment. It is uptight people with too much energy that makes people uncomfortable. There is nothing wrong with being calm and relaxed, more people should try it. Or what you call “lazy”. You only live once, calm down and enjoy life. You don’t have to constantly be running around pepped up on caffeine. That’s just annoying.
Frank Sonnenberg says
Hi Brinxster Thanks for your thoughts. You bring up a valuable point. Does one’s personal style (being calm or type A) make them lazy? Not in my mind. As you suggest, their personal style may have an impact on the atmosphere in the workplace. Have a wonderful day!
Being lazy is GREAT, it makes you look for the simplest solution to a problem. Trouble is, that simplest solution sometimes takes longer to arrive at!
I should have added that, if the solution is to a repetitive problem, it always saves time in the long run.
Frank Sonnenberg says
I understand exactly what you’re saying. In my mind, there’s a difference between being lazy and working smart. As you say, finding the simplest solution is really important. That’s smart.
I also agree that establishing routines helps you to focus on the important things in life. If everyone did those two things, they’d find a lot more time in the day for themselves.
Have an awesome day!