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I’m going to discuss a topic that is probably on your mind. I say this because Ogilvy Publics Relations has reported that Hong Kong people spend 10,000 minutes per day worrying about Hong Kong’s future. So chances are, you spent some time worrying about it today!

And why wouldn’t you worry? Everyday we hear of job losses, government deficits, rising competition from the Mainland and suicides.

The truth is we’ve lost our competitive advantage and other Asian cities are overtaking us. Hong Kong people are masters of hard work, persistence and entrepreneurialism. But times have changed and I believe many Hong Kong people are running hard in the wrong direction. If we want to maintain our healthy economy and high standard of living we must do something different. The key to competitive success is NO LONGER in hard work. No. We cannot win by trying to do more work for less money. We must do BETTER work. We must develop new creative solutions to problems, and we must give excellent customer service. We must begin to use not just our time, but our creativity and passions to add value.

You’ve all heard the expression ‘Don’t work hard, work smart.’

Working smarter doesn’t mean working more hours. The more you work hard, the less smart you are. Have you ever had the experience of working late, getting really tired and then making a foolish mistake that wastes double the amount of time you just spent? Like when you hit the delete key and accidentally erase your whole day’s work. That’s called working dumb.

One of my coaching clients worked hard in an after-work MBA program trying to better himself so that he could get promoted. He was often so tired in the office that he made careless mistakes and was continually passed by for promotion. That’s called working dumb.

Another client of mine tried to please her boss by working hard. She came in early, stayed late and never asked for help or appreciation. The pressure she put on herself made her irritable and rigid. She didn’t enjoy her work and lost her heart for it. That’s called working dumb.

So how can you work smart? Here comes the good news.

Your most creative moments come when you are having fun or relaxing. You have most care for others when you feel secure, happy and well cared for yourself.

The truth is, working smarter means taking better care of yourself. It means doing more of what you love doing, what you are passionate about and what you are naturally good at. Here are two ways you can start to make this transition for yourself.

1) Spend more time doing what you love to do. You will naturally be developing your greatest assets, your creativity and your passion. In what you love to do is your greatest potential to contribute something truly excellent to Hong Kong and the world.

2) Say ‘no’ more often to what you don’t want to do. This may be difficult sometimes but it is vital. You must become the guardian of your own time to make sure you are doing your best work as much as possible.

Here’s the Proof

In my experience as a coach, I’ve seen many people turn around their work attitudes and results once they start focusing on what they most love to do. Here are some examples:

A business owner I work with has been letting go of control over the operational management of her company. Before, she had assumed she had to do this, even though she didn’t like it. Now that she is truly delegating and trusting her managers, she is free to focus on the creative work that is her true strength. Without the pressure of work she doesn’t like, she’s much happier, gets along better with her staff and is seeing better company results overall. She added value to the company by working less.

A client of mine was transferred to a solo marketing position from a team leader role. She was pleased with the added responsibility in her new position but she missed working with a team and wanted to interact more with others even though that wasn’t part of the new job. Instead of putting up with it, she decided to take action. With her boss’s support she found other ways to get the interaction she wanted. As a result she was more creative and came up with better ideas. She added value to the company by looking after herself.

My own situation is also a good example. Two years ago I started focusing my attention on what I MOST want to do, that is to create my own coaching business. I’ve spent less time on volunteer work and said ‘no’ to the demands of some friends. But I’ve also increased my income 5 times and the Hong Kong tax man is benefiting! I’ve added value to Hong Kong by focusing on what I most want to do.

As you can imagine, these changes are not simple. They require new communication skills, new beliefs and attitudes. But other countries have been through this transition before us and there is support. As an example, I offer a course called the Personal Foundation Program that teaches the skills needed to make this transition. More and more individuals and companies are also offering coaching and coaching programs that help people to find their passions and creativity.

Are Hong Kong people ready to change direction and start working smart instead of hard? Can you see this happening?

Never! Say the disbelievers. Hong Kong is all about hard work. People will never change!

But no! I believe it will happen and that it will start with many people just like you starting to look after yourselves more to discover your highest talents and passions. This is the trend in the front edges of human civilization. With all of Hong Kong’s advantages, our excellent infrastructure and free contact with the wide world, I believe it will happen here too.

As this change starts to take place, the first thing we’ll notice is that Hong Kong people will be happier, as they have more fun, relax more and look after themselves better. Then they will start getting even richer.


As I said before, you can contribute to this positive trend in 2 simple ways.

    1)  Spend more time doing what you love to do.

    2)  Stop doing what you don’t want to do.

Work smart. Be a model. The more people do it, the faster it will catch on. And every one of you has a part to play in making this change for Hong Kong’s future prosperity.