March - Growing a Strong Work Ethic
You’ve probably heard the term “work ethic” from your parents or teachers, but have you ever wondered what it REALLY means? Work ethic is defined as your values and beliefs about every job, responsibility, or task that you do. It is your internal view that the way you work reflects yourself to the rest of the world.
Think about that previous sentence for a moment. Work ethic is about your view of the way you work, and how that reflects back on you. Notice that it’s not about what you do, but the way you do it. Work ethic can apply to the way you do your homework or take a test, the way you work at your job, and the way you do your chores at home. Whether you are learning algebra at school, earning money bagging groceries, taking out the trash at home, or something in between, your work ethic is an important factor to living a successful life.
Through your work ethic, you have the opportunity to live a life of excellence as opposed to mediocrity. If you want to achieve your highest potential, you have to strive for excellence. And let’s be realistic: There may be times where you miss the mark—and that’s OK. As long as you are learning to do better. Excellence influences you to do your best and to try again when you fail. It’s part of life!
Here are five qualities you want to grow for a strong work ethic:
Being reliable means that others are able to count on you when you say you’re going to do something. It’s doing what you say you’re going to do, being early or on time, and completing tasks (not just starting them). Another way to think of this is that you are dependable.
Having dedication is when you will do anything that needs to be done, in order to perform the job well or take the responsibility seriously. It means you are committed to striving for above average work when completing a lesson, job, or task.
Being productive means that you are able to get more work done in less time and that you use your time well, without distractions. Having a high level of productivity doesn’t mean that you rush through your work! It means that you focus on one thing at a time and are mindful of the time needed for a job well done.
Your ability to work as part of a team is where cooperation comes into play. Being a teammate, whether it’s at school, at work, or as part of an extracurricular activity, means that you are able to prioritize the collective goal of the group over any individual.
Strong values equal strong character, and they also influence your ability to grow a strong work ethic. Integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness, for example, are traits that have a positive impact on your character.
Striving to be excellent and holding up these qualities can be challenging. You might be faced with days or weeks where it feels like you’d rather settle for mediocrity or “good enough.” But instead of letting those feelings take over, lean into what you’re learning here. Give yourself a little mental push and encouragement that you can do it. Don’t stop when you get tired or things get hard. Taking the easy way out feels good in the moment, but it doesn’t help you achieve the excellence you’re after. And you will be a stronger person for every step you take in that direction!
The true secret to growing your work ethic is to build small, excellent habits over a long period of time. You won’t see immediate results—and that’s normal. You will notice a slow shift in the way you work, the way you feel about yourself, and the way others see you. Remember that every day, every task matters. A strong work ethic means you are doing a little extra above and beyond, at everything you do, and making it a habit.
Here are some examples of those small steps you can take:
● If you start a project, finish it. Aim for a “highly satisfied” result, not just “satisfactory.”
● Ask questions in class (when permitted) to make sure you understand what is being taught and can apply it to your homework or test.
● Never show up late; plan ahead for being early or on time.
● When asked to help clean up at home, don’t cut corners. Go for sparkle and shine!
● If you negotiate anything with your teachers or parents (such as extra credit or a later curfew), follow through on your commitment so they can see you are responsible.
● Be willing to be a team leader OR a team player, and use your role to help steer the team to success.
Growing a strong ethic means you are working hard for today and for your future. Excellence in your life spills over into every possible area: Being a student, a family member, an employee, a volunteer, and a member of your community. Your commitment means something to you personally, and it means something to those you influence. Remember that your work ethic is completely within your control—choose excellence and watch yourself grow!