How to be Diligent?

This year, my primary goal is to focus on “becoming,” i.e., focus on the process, not the end product. That is an easy goal to make, but it can be challenging to execute. For example, how do I become? What processes should I put my focus on? How hard should I work on it? And many more. However, I found out that a significant character trait that would aid my goal is diligence, and you will understand why soon enough.

Initially, I asked what the meaning of diligence is. However, even though diligence is a common word, you will probably get three answers if you ask two people what diligence means. So I changed tactics. I am not interested in the definition of diligence but rather in its application. Therefore, I changed my question to what it means to be diligent and how to be diligent.
The first step I took was finding multiple references to diligence from different sources, i.e., the internet, the bible, YouTube, and books. In comparing the information from all my references, something stood out.

Hard work is not diligence.

Hard work is often confused with diligence. Even though hard work is essential to a diligent person, it is not the same. We can work hard or be busy without any corresponding value output. Diligence requires hard work, but it transcends hard work. If we are not producing anything of value, we are not diligent, no matter how hard or long we work.

The first property of diligence that I discovered is strategy. Imagine I want to build a house. So I buy land, hire an architect to design something I like, and immediately start building; that project will most likely fail. The project will most likely fail because I forgot to strategize initially. I did not ask questions like how much I have to spend on building a house? What kind of building is within my budget? What are the extra costs that could arise and many more? Being diligent is not just jumping headfirst into a project. A diligent person plans first to ensure they can complete the project. You can generalize this property of diligence to all areas of life!

Further, I found that diligence requires sacrifice. Being diligent will cost us something. We may sacrifice our time, power, ego, lazy voice (that one that says: it is not my responsibility), and our comfort. We recoil at the first mention of sacrifice because sacrifice does not come naturally to humans. Sacrifice induces pain, and our brain tries to avoid or prevent pain as much as possible. Our brains try to avoid discomfort to keep us safe in many cases. But our brain cannot differentiate between pain that would damage us or good pain for us. The pain involved in sacrificing to become better is good, but we want to avoid it nonetheless.

Additionally, diligence requires resilience and tenacity. A diligent person perseveres in the face of challenges. Building a house might not go as planned because of a sudden economic crisis but abandoning the building process is not always the answer. Having a business fail the first time does not mean we should give up on our entrepreneurial pursuits. Failing a class does not mean you should withdraw from school or that the program is not for you. With every challenge we face, we need to restrategize. A diligent person can fail; in fact, everyone fails. But only a diligent person will restrategize and move forward regardless of failure. Note that a diligent person does not only move forward; they restrategize first and then move forward.

Finally, I hope you now understand why diligence is an essential character trait for me but not only for me, everyone! Now here is the most challenging part: be diligent!

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Omolola Olamide

Omolola Olamide

Christian | Systems Engineer | Entrepreneur | Writer (I write to glorify God!)