If you were to Google "work ethic decline" you would be given an array of studies, editorials, and articles debating which generation reflects the greatest work ethic. It seems to me that the slant of the study, editorial or article often depends on the age of the one pushing the pen. I was born in 1965 and was taught a work ethic from parents who were born in the 1930's. I've always appreciated the work ethic that I was taught as a boy growing up in the 1970's and I believe that work ethic has served me well in my 52 years of life.
Anyone who has truly studied the topic of "work ethic" will agree that there are seven core work ethic values: attitude, reliability, professionalism, initiative, respect, integrity, and gratitude. Rather than write about each of those seven values, I'll simply challenge you to think about each one in your own life and to rank them in order from which value is your strongest to which is your weakest. Then, focus this week on improving your weakest value. Each week re-evaluate your efforts with each value in the work that you do. Aim to improve your values every week. If you can maintain this focus weekly, your work ethic can only improve and as a result you will likely feel greater satisfaction in your work and may experience positive outcomes from your improving work ethic -- perhaps even financial benefits.
It has been said that passion doesn’t fuel work ethic; work ethic fuels passion. In his book Reviving Work Ethic, Eric Chester explains that most people want to go about it backwards. They want to let their passions propel their efforts. They want an emotion-driven life, but our emotions don’t always lead us where we need to go or keep us where we need to be. You won’t produce heat in your fireplace by saying, “Once there’s a fire, I’ll put in some logs.” You put the logs in and build a fire, and then you’ll see some heat. Likewise, the passion you have for a job is directly related to the initiative you put into it. Mr. Chester writes:
Over the past ten years, I’ve interacted with, listened to, and surveyed more than 1,500 employers (business owners, C-level executives, HR professionals, managers, supervisors, etc.) in an attempt to understand what work ethic looks like from their perspective. In each exchange, I listened to their various laments about that lack of work ethic and responded by asking this question: “What do you expect from each and every employee?” At the risk of sounding simplistic, I can summarize hundreds of responses in one sentence: Employers are searching for positive, enthusiastic people who show up for work on time, who are dressed and prepared properly, who go out of their way to add value and do more than what’s required of them, who are honest, who will play by the rules, and who will give cheerful, friendly service regardless of the situation.I've experienced various successes in life -- both personal and professional -- due, in large part, to my work ethic. I won't list my successes because I don't want this blog post to be about me. I want it to be about you, the reader. Life is a long road of many mileposts and along the way certain mileposts are forever ingrained in our memory due to an event that greatly impacted us, either positively or negatively. I hope that as you take those occasional glances back on the path you've traveled that you'll see moments when your work ethic truly rewarded your life.
In closing, keep in mind this old (and true!) saying: Well done is better than well said.
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P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.