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Can our work ethic sustain us when our passion wanes?
Eric Chester has been studying and writing about today’s emerging workforce since the 1980’s, when Generation Y was in its infancy. Millennials have been examined and critiqued so much, but Chester has done his homework in how to help them be successful in the workplace. He also challenges employers to equip these young adults with what they may not have upon entering the workforce – that being a strong work ethic.
In his article in The MHEDA Journal, Chester defines work ethic as simply “knowing what to do and doing it“. Through his research, Chester created a list of seven indisputable, non-negotiable core values that he strongly believes every employer should demand: positivity (positive attitude), reliability, professionalism, initiative, honesty, respect, and gratitude (cheerful service).
This is not just so for millennials but for all of us in the workforce. What do we need to be successful or effective across a career? Is it passion or work ethic? Passion (strong or powerful emotion, deep desire, intense conviction) is a big buzzword right now in hiring, but what we really need is work ethic. As Chester states, in his book Reviving Work Ethic, “passion doesn’t fuel work ethic; work ethic fuels passion.”
A strong work ethic will carry us through seasons in our career when we’re “just not feeling it”. I appreciate the distinction Chester makes about how our work ethic actually fuels our passion and not the other way around. We may not all have passion in measures that enhance our success, but we can apply ourselves with diligence and intentionality such that we can push through to the finish, whatever it is. When passion wanes, this is a great encouragement to me.
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Arlene Hirsch quotes Mark Cuban’s thinking on passion and work ethic:
“’Follow Your Passion’ is easily the worst advice you could ever give or get.
1. When you work hard at something you become good at it.
2. When you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it more.
3. When you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate or more passionate about it.
4. When you are good at something, passionate and work even harder to excel and be the best at it, good things happen.
Don’t follow your passion, follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.”
Chester uses the analogy of building a fire in a fireplace. You have to set the logs in place before you start the fire. Passion will heat up a conversation or spark a vision, but it won’t get the job done, whatever it is. This is where our work ethic when applied will get us to goal, to mastery, to the finish. That in turn gives rise to passion as we see what is possible when we put forth the best effort that is each of ours to bring.
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Whether you are newly employed in the workforce or a seasoned veteran, it’s wise to consider the bottom line of what we ought to bring to our jobs. This will vary across organizations and companies, especially as our workforce itself changes in the years to come. Chester’s summation is noteworthy for all of us:
“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.”
How’s your work ethic?…
Whatever our passion might be today, our work ethic can be rock solid…something we count on in each other at work in the every day.
Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce by Eric Chester
On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out by Eric Chester
Employers Must Pick Up the Slack, Instill Work Ethic in the Emerging Workforce – article by Eric Chester
Follow Your Energy, Not Your Passion – article by Arlene Hirsch
What’s Wrong with Work Ethic in America? – article by Patricia Fripp
SlideShare – Metric Driven Talent Management – 21st Century Talent Management Conference – Tanzania
YouTube Video – Book Trailer for Reviving Work Ethic by Eric Chester
YouTube Video – Book Trailer for On Fire at Work by Eric Chester
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4 thoughts on “Monday Morning Moment – Our Work Ethic Pushes Us On When Our Passion Wanes – How’s Your Work Ethic?”
Thank you Debbie this is a thoughtful piece and especially resonates when you have had a break from employment as happens so often in times of reorganization and layoffs at work.
Thanks, Barbara. True also across a long tenure in a job. When our passion wanes, it’s natural to wonder if we need a change. Maybe or maybe not. In the meantime, while we’re weighing out possibilities, a strong work ethic can help us push through to continue to finish strong in each day, each task, and every work relationship. Thanks for commenting.
Very thoughtful…as you know I was not sure I could handle the increased pace that is now required by my position at this point in life..although I would of prefered a change to a 4 day week…I realized the work was necessary to the organization and have been determined to meet the demand …surprised that it really has not been that hard.
I’m glad, Linda. Your own strong work ethic is helping you push through…and grace abounds as well, huh? One day, maybe the 4-day work week will come through. Thanks for commenting.