Working hard is the most important way to get things done and therefore it is crucial for success. Have you ever wondered why our brothers like Mr. Lam Minh Chanh, Mr. Nguyen Duc Son are very much powerful in their area of delivering inspiration and brand insights? The success secret of a famous musician is to keep practicing every day, and that of a tennis player, such as Federer, is to play, read, and think about the ball daily and nightly; it sounds just that simple!. The two brothers mentioned above are doing, reading and thinking about their work hourly too (pardon my guess ), hence things come to them as you can see obviously. So, is working hard the secret for success? Yes, it should be. Nevertheless, it is not enough. Here is the key: you can only work hard when you make a smart choice and you can’t work hard on a bad choice. Having worked for five companies both local and international ones for 18 years and been both employee and owner, I experienced different levels and learnt this the hard way. Remember that, working 10 to 12 hours per day or even more does not mean that you are working hard. Working hard means you passionately and consistently put your effort, time, energy and thoughts in your job over a period of time. it is not just about hours spent. If you can’t work hard, you are likely not working on a smart choice for you. Then, what is a smart choice? Why Bill Gate and Steve Jobs quit university to work with full of energy? Why Albert Einstein spent most of his hours in Lab leaving his stomach empty? And why Mr. Chanh and Mr. Son can repeat times in reading, thinking and writing just about one topic every single day in many years? is it boring that way? The answer is, again, very simple: it is passion and strengths! Working smart is more about “choice” and how you leverage on your passion, strengths as well as other resources (other people, money, internet, time …anything that could bring you up beyond yourself) to reach your objectives. That is the smart choice by what I mean it. Smart choice is also one of the conditions for working hard. You can’t bring your ass of out bed for work every morning? you don’t enjoy your product at all? You stay very late in your office just because everyone else does the same while you don’t want? Those are examples of bad choice. If you do things at your wrong fit, it will burn your energy and passion. The more you work the less happy you become. Under this scenario, you hardly have chance to be successful or you might lose yourself in such a success because that success is actually is defined by other people around you, not by you. When we are doing what we are passionate about and capable of, that right fit will unleash our ability significantly. In fact, you can’t truly work hard when you choose the wrong things. Hang on a bit, can you make a smart choice if you have never worked hard? Most of the cases, no! unless you are born talented. People are learning by doing. I myself have made several stupid choices . Everyone has passion or unique strength, and it is often uncovered by life pushing or even an adversity. Some of us can recognize our passion early such as Bill Gate or Steve jobs or some even know it earlier. However, many of us may only know what we are passionate about after the 60th birthday, I hope that won’t happen to you If you have been working very hard and still don’t know why you are doing things that you are doing today, step back and make a smart choice first, don’t just keep working hard blindly. If you are still very young and not yet spending considerable times working hard, then working hard is what you need to go for now, don’t think too much about “work smart” yet; remember that we have a saying “khôn đâu đến trẻ khỏe đâu đến già”. Just do it first “you will win or learn”. In short, it is not about “work hard or work smart”, you definitely need both. So I like to put it this way: WORK HARD, MAKE SMART CHOICE, AND WORK HARD ON IT. Speed up this cycle to see how it goes. Still not clear? Time opens for discussion by Nguyễn Dương, Former Country Director, Singapore Telecommunication Ltd, Vietnam.