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May 26, 2024

Face-off between the hard worker and the competent worker

hard worker and competent worker
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Hardworking vs Smart working

From my little experience and observation in the work environment, I have seen different kinds of workers: the hard worker, the competent and the unmotivated or lackadaisical. What I want to share with you now is the difference between the hard worker and the competent worker. The two are easily confused, misunderstood and misjudged many a time. I got to know and understand that one can be hard working and not be competent enough. Being hardworking has a lot to do with impression and, more importantly, activity, while being competent is in results and, more importantly, the quality of results. Also, being competent is determined by the number and magnitude of problems one is able to solve. Let me tell you a little story to help you understand the difference between the hard worker and the competent worker.

Story of the competent and the hard worker

Two trees were to be cut down by Jack and Jake. So they were both taken to the site where the trees were. Both were given an axe to cut down their tree in three hours. These axes were dull. Jack being a hardworking person quickly started working in order to meet the three hours deadline. But Jake noticed the axe was dull so he took it to a place to get it sharpened. He was told to come back for it after 45 minutes, so he went back to the site to relax as he waited for his axe to be sharpened. Meanwhile, Jack was all along busy cutting down his tree with the dull axe. Those who passed by saw them and said, “As for Jake, he is very lazy. While his colleague, Jack, is busy cutting down his tree in other to meet the deadline, he is relaxing as if there is nothing at stake.” When it was exactly 45 minutes later, Jake went for his axe and started cutting down his tree. Within an hour time, Jake’s tree was totally flat on its back, while Jack was still busy doing his cutting. Thirty minutes later, Jack also fell his tree.


  • Competent people are usually strategic, efficient, and sometimes philosophers.
  • Competent people tend to solve more problems than hard workers because they usually create excess time to complete more tasks.
  • Competent people manage their time and energy better than hard workers.
  • Competent people have their minds set on results and not impressions.
  • Hard workers usually get the favourable opinions of those who judge from afar because they are always seen doing (activity).
  • Competent people take time to critically assess the whole picture of their task before they do.
  • Hard workers also produce results so far as they have the desire to do so, but the sense of speed, precision, efficiency and the mark of ingenuity and class that you feel and sense about the work of the competent is what makes the difference.

When intelligence gather, ingenuity is their master (unknown).

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