I have a secret. A secret that I really shouldn’t be telling you about. Something so bad and looked down on that by admitting it I am making myself almost unemployable. Something I have tried to hide and that most people won’t believe.
I am really incredibly lazy.
Can you imagine saying that in a job interview? It is true. I reckon I might be one of the laziest people you’ve ever met. In fact, I am so lazy that I don’t see how I would ever be able to work a normal job.
At school, I was terrible. I missed at least one day every other week through ‘illness’. I wasn’t ill. I was lazy and couldn’t summon up the energy to get out of bed. I would much rather sleep and watch TV than go to school.
University was no better. I loved University, but what I loved about it was that there were no attendance requirements at lectures. It was great, I could sleep, chat and watch TV all day. I took multiple modules where I didn’t go to a single lecture.
The problem is, you can’t act like that in the real world. If you don’t turn up to work you don’t get paid. If you don’t get paid you don’t eat.
But here’s where the story takes a twist. I believe my laziness has lead to most of my successes in life.
“Whenever there is a hard job to be done I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it.” – Walter Chrysler
I remember the exact moment when I decided not to get a job. I was sitting at my laptop with a graduate scheme application form open in front of me. I had just gotten to a question asking me to explain in 200 words why I wanted to work at that specific bank rather than any other. I couldn’t face it.
Not only would I have to answer this same question for every other company I applied to, but if by some miracle I actually got the job I would then need to go to work every single day. I would have to get up early in the morning! And commute!!
“I really can’t be bothered”. I thought and closed the laptop. I haven’t looked back since.
My laziness became my motivation. The fear of the nine-to-five forced me to succeed, and I worked my ass off to do it.
Eventually, I made it. The businesses are going well and I find myself with the luxurious option to spend entire weeks doing nothing productive without having to worry about money. Some days I don’t leave my apartment and just watch Netflix, play video games or read.
It’s not just in business that my laziness leads me to do some very unlazy things.
I know I should go to the gym, I know I should cook, I know I should get up in the morning. But every time I try to get into a habit I eventually quit. I’ll skip one day, or one meal because I can’t be bothered. Then I’ll skip another, and another, and another. Eventually I’ll end up doing nothing at all.
As I got slightly older and slightly wiser I started to understand a few things about myself:
- I am lazy. Given the option, I will happily spend all day watching TV and playing video games.
- I hate letting people down.
- I don’t like people seeing me fail.
All those are true and are not going to change. They are part of my DNA. But that’s good! I realised I could leverage them to get things done.
In 2014, I decided to learn to play table tennis. My friend Ben Larcombe set a challenge: He would train me every single day for a year in an attempt to take me from a complete novice to one of the top 250 table tennis players in the UK. We would tell everyone about it, video it all and publish our progress to a blog.
My friends just laughed at me.
“You’re way too lazy to complete that challenge!”
But I knew they were wrong. I couldn’t quit because we had told everyone about the challenge and they would all see me fail. And I couldn’t quit because I would let down Ben who was giving up all this time just to train me.
I completed the year! I got nowhere near that top 250 mark, but I did get pretty darn good at table tennis. For someone as lazy as me that is an amazing achievement. Here’s the proof, one-second-a-day for the entire year:
One of my favourite comments on the video is:
Well would you look at that. Setting goals and achieving them. Yet another thing I will never accomplish.
That always makes me chuckle. I bet the person who wrote it is nowhere near as lazy as me!
If I have any advice for you, it is this: don’t fight who you are, rather aim to understand yourself and leverage your natural strengths. Laziness is a bad personality trait, but that doesn’t mean you need to write yourself off as an unproductive waste of space. Turn it on its head and use it to succeed.
Now if you’ll excuse me this is getting too much like hard work, so I am going to go and watch some Netflix.