Friday, June 21, 2013

Top 5 Life Habits of a Strong Work Ethic

I once coached a 43-year-old man who lived at home and had never worked a day in his life. At the time, interest rates had fallen to all-time lows, so the annual interest on his trust fund principal had diminished considerably. To continue living in the style to which he was accustomed, he simply withdrew money from the principal.

When his trust fund was all but lost, he asked his parents to replenish it. They refused. They told him to get a job. But he had a problem with that, so they asked me to help him find a niche in the workplace.

Nothing worked. Getting a paying job was totally alien to him. He wouldn't have anything to do with it. He didn't even want to discuss it.

He was a 43-year-old boy, weak in all the ways that make someone a man.

If you've been following this blog, you know I often write about personal strengths. Some of these 40 strengths directly support what we call a "work ethic."

It's hard to earn your way in the world and make a life for yourself. I believe these strengths are among the top essential elements of a strong work ethic:
  • Perseverance - not giving up on a difficult task
  • Excellence - doing what's needed to achieve a high standard
  • Self-discipline - staying on track, saying no to distractions
  • Effort - Working hard, working long, even when tired
  • Initiative - Doing what needs to be done, even without being told
People aren't born with a strong work ethic. It doesn't transfer in the family culture from generation to generation. The only way to build these personal strength habits is to wire your brain for them when you're young. To acquire a work ethic, you have to make going to work and earning money a habit.

I was fortunate because I came from a large family with a lower-middle-class background. My parents couldn't afford to give me an allowance. So from a young age, I looked for ways to earn money. By the time I was 16 I had worked a half dozen different jobs.

The 43-year-old silver-spooner who had always been given everything wasn't so lucky.

Listen to this discussion about parents who encourage kids to acquire a work ethic.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2013. Building Personal Strength .

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