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Bill Gates Says Lazy People Make the Best Employees. But Is Your Laziness Actually Masking a Deeper Issue?

You're not lazy. But there's something else wrong

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Bill Gates thinks you should hire lazy people. No, seriously. He famously said, “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

I don’t disagree with the premise. Choosing a person who will do a job the “easy way” and solve the difficult problem in front of them can be better than putting your most ambitious team on it. The hardest way is often not the best way. In fact, in the startup world, over delivering can be just as dangerous as under delivering when time and money are finite resources and a lesser solution would have solved the problem effectively. Picking the lowest hanging fruit does not make a person lazy, nor does taking the more obvious path, nor does actually taking vacation. It makes them good at prioritization, efficient workers and more resilient people.

Categorizing all of these behaviors as lazy is non-specific, reductive and, well, lazy. But it’s an easy word to assign, both to ourselves and to others. A colleague missed a deadline despite having ample time? Lazy. We’d rather sleep in than go to the gym? Lazy. But, it’s not that simple.  is not the problem; it’s a symptom. We often resist seeing it that way, because the deeper reasons for our hesitation to take action can be uncomfortable truths.

We need to examine them anyway. They’re actually what’s holding us back, not laziness.

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