The most important lesson my father ever taught me wasn't with his words. It was with his actions... I saw him working himself thin, day in and day out at jobs he probably hated. Eventually he decided that enough was enough and that he would try to form his own companies. Through trial and error he inevitably found his niche and has been able to eek out some level of success without having a "boss". Through his experience I learned that you don't want to work hard in this world, you want to work smart!
Not to say that working hard won't get you anywhere because it certainly will, up to a point. After that you need to become more creative and inventive to really have an edge. Sure, working hard will help you to get by. But is simply getting by ENOUGH? As humans we always desire more- more comfort, more money, more happiness, more freedom. The list goes on and on. Working a 9-5 job simply wont cut it these days while most people are living paycheck to paycheck.
You need to be different, you need to think outside of the box to really have a competitive edge in today's economy. For most people, my co-workers included, this means getting a second job and working yourself into a lifeless zombie. It doesn't have to be that way anymore! In this day and age there are many things you can do to earn a second source of income rather than selling your time to your employer. That is just the "easy" way out (mentally not physically). Personally I invest, write and play poker on the side for supplemental income.
Part of the reason why I decided to stick with the serving industry for my profession is because of the freedom and flexibility it can offer. Short hours, daily cashflow, set schedule times with no graveyard shifts. Moving into fine dining was obviously a very huge jump from the casual dining jobs I was experienced with but the job is essentially the same at its core. The main difference being the cost per plate which equates to more dollars in your pocket. Attention to detail is a must at this level since people will be very critical of your performance.
The better you execute, the more highly you are paid. This is especially true at my job since people are already spending so much money they expect a certain standard of service. Not all customer service jobs are created equal- in retail you get ZERO reward for exceptional performance, other than a pat on the back. This puts fine dining at the top of the list for food service jobs by far! Most nights I only have to work 6 hours and get paid more than triple what I used to make at one of my old jobs.