Somewhere along the way, our culture has created a myth that we can achieve success if we’ll just “work a little harder.” Here’s a newsflash: that doesn’t work.

I’m guessing you already knew that. You know that the twelfth hour at your computer is about as productive as watching American congressional debates. You know that you get more done in that quiet hour before the office opens than you do for the entire rest of the day.

But we endure it all anyway, wearing our workaholic badges with pride. Ringing up those 60 and 80 hour weeks, telling our families that there’s always something more we have to do.

Stop. Just stop.

At 5:00pm today (and for the rest of the week), go home. Have dinner. Take your kids to the park. Read a book. Sleep. Whatever it is, don’t work. And don’t work this weekend either.

Something amazing will happen. Nothing will burn down, and no one will die. (Unless you’re a firefighter or ER doc.) Chances are, everything that must get done, will. Some things may fall through the cracks. That’s okay. It’s worth it.

To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.

– Confucius

You can, however, start working smarter.

You can start thinking for a change, as John Maxwell says. You can identify your high value activities and focus on them. From Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferriss, you can learn how to get disproportionate results from finding your leverage points. You can learn to use your natural ultradian rhythms to find your performance pulse.

Block off two hours next Sunday night or Monday morning to think. Yes, think. By then, you’ll be reasonably rested, and you’ll have an idea about where your problem areas are. You may even have a fresh enough mind to be thinking about where your opportunities are.

Believe it or not, you’re not paid to hold down a chair for as many hours as possible. You’re paid when you deliver value.

If you’re stuck, it’s likely because burned out, stressed out, worn out people don’t deliver much value. You must take care of yourself (and those around you) in order to consistently create value. You may cheat it briefly, but truth always catches up.

You’re not a very good martyr, and you don’t need to be one anyway. You have a team; build it. You have faith; rely on it. Great things are never accomplished solo. (That’s a myth too.)

To succeed, you’ll need confidence in (and knowledge of) your strengths and a humble understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around you. No amount of mindless hours at your desk can compete with that.

This post is part of a new topic area: peak performance. I believe that when one of us achieves our potential, it inspires the next to do the same. Over the last few years, it’s absolutely become my passion. To be sure you don’t miss a post, you can click here to subscribe.