Don't Believe Success Comes From Hard Work Alone Get-it-done grit is necessary but not sufficient to attaining success in life. That which you do must be worthy of your precious time, and that's a determination only you can make.

By Joe De Sena

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Since I was a kid, I've admired people who worked hard: Jack Lalanne, my dad, famous war leaders, the guy who delivered the legendary message to Garcia, the immigrants who build themselves up from nothing. I love the people who just "got it done." But as I get older and I meet more and more people through my podcast, I'm realizing that success isn't just about working hard. Something has to come first.

Related: How Hard Do You Need to Work to Reach Success?

As I was working up a sweat climbing 40 flights of stairs with my kettle bell the other day, I thought about someone I interviewed a while back who went through a dramatic change of heart. His name is Scott Harrison. You might know him: He's the guy who runs Charity Water, an international non-profit dedicated to bringing clean water to people around the globe who don't have any. He has worked hard his entire life, but I only admire him for what he does now.

That empty feeling.

When Scott was a young guy, he put his nose to the grindstone for a different master. He was a nightclub promoter in New York. His one goal was keeping the beautiful people high and happy. In his quest to become the best, he filled his life with super models, rap stars, drinking, drugs, porn and gambling. But despite all this superficiality, Scott was a thoughtful guy. One day when he was sitting on the beach in South America, he realized how all his work left him feeling empty. He quit all his vices cold turkey and started looking for ways to help people.

Related: 7 Sure Signs Now Is the Time for a Career Change

Scott started putting his work ethic to good use helping doctors in Liberia, the polar opposite of New York City, where there was no running water, no electricity and no sewer system. He watched in sadness as his doctors had to turn away thousands of people who saw them as their only hope. As he worked, he realized there was no one solely focused on providing clean water and got the idea to start his own foundation. Now, he's using the grit and determination he's always had to provide clean water for more than six million people.

Get it done, plus.

It's not surprising to me that some of the grittiest people in the world end up doing the most good. After all, without motivation, you can't get anything done, good or bad. But even if you have all the motivation in the world to "get it done" day-in, day-out, you have to step back and look at the value of what it is you're getting done. Are you spending your precious time chasing a flag? Or are you turning your own blood, sweat and tears into water that gives people life? By all means, get it done, work long hours, and become obsessed with your goal. But you have to make sure the goal is worthy.

Related: Deepak Chopra's 7 Tips for Business Success

By then I had reached the top of the stairs, so I finished with 100 burpees and took a rest at the top of the building. I stood by one of the huge windows and looked out over the city. It was beautiful in Osaka that day, and I felt immensely grateful that I still had time there.

Joe De Sena

Founder & CEO, Spartan Race, Inc.

Joe De Sena is the founder and CEO of Spartan Race, Inc. De Sena has been an entrepreneur since his pre-teens. From selling fireworks at age 8, to starting a t-shirt business in high school, to building a multimillion-dollar pool business in college, to creating a Wall Street trading firm, De Sena is a living definition of "entrepreneur." De Sena is the New York Times bestselling author of SPARTAN UP! A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life and SPARTAN FIT! 30 Days. Transform Your Mind. Transform Your Body. Commit to Grit. He is also the host of the Spartan Up! Podcast, available on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTubeFor information about a Spartan Race in your area, visit

Editor's Pick

Related Topics