Tag Archives: Energy

Monday Morning Moment – Our Work Ethic Pushes Us On When Our Passion Wanes – How’s Your Work Ethic?

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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

Work Ethic Quotes – Pinterest

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Monday Morning Moment – Notes on Chris Bailey’s Life of Productivity

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Where does the time go? How do I get so tired before the day is done? I just can’t stay focused…too distracted, I guess. You know what I’m talking about. Then there are the reactions of those friends and family. The ones who treat us with kindness tell us sympathetically “You are just so busy”. Then the others, more in our faces, say, “The things you want to do, you do. You just don’t want time with me enough.” I get the logic of those statements, but I’ve been perplexed as to how to improve my life choices, such that I get more accomplished…more of the important things.

Until more recently…when I experienced the convergence of making New Year’s resolutions, having a big birthday, and hearing Chris Bailey talk productivity.

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Chris Bailey is the age of my children. Although he had job offers, he took the year after graduating university to go deep into a study of productivity.  During that year, he wrote about his experiments in his blog – A Life of Productivity. Then, he designed a roadmap of 25 tactics to greater productivity in his book The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy .

You may be tempted to yawn at another book on productivity, but this is clearly one not like the others. I listened to a couple of podcasts on Unmistakable Creative where host Srini Rao talks with Chris Bailey. They pour over what Chris discovered about productivity during that year of experiments. [Disclaimer: I haven’t read the book yet but plan to. My takeaways are from these podcasts and the other sources linked below. Can’t wait to read his roadmap on productivity.]

As Chris talks with Srini (and we get to listen in – love these podcast opportunities), he talks about what he’s learned from others regarding productivity. His tipping point was reading David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. Srini also refers to Cal Newport’s writing on deep work (you can listen to him on Unmistakable Creative here and here). They also mentioned Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Chris Bailey’s year of productivity experiments included studying what was already in the literature – a big help to us less-read hopefuls.

Chris defines productivity not as getting more things done but getting more accomplished. The difference is huge. It’s not just the “to-do list” but the view toward the “done list”. “Productivity is time, energy, and attention, and where the three meet in the middle is where you are in being productive. It is achieving what you intend to accomplish. It’s not about doing more things faster, but doing the right things deliberately and with intention.”

Here are the takeaways from my first-look into Chris Bailey’s “life of productivity”.

  • Take a step back from your life and ask the questions: What do I care about? What motivates me? When was I most inspired, driven, or felt the most meaning or passion for what I was doing?
  • The three commodities we all bring to the table are time, energy, and attention. It’s not just about time management, but also increasing our capacity for work (energy) and focus (attention).
  • Start every day with intentionality. Make your to-do lists to manage the minutia of life, but then do something more. Take a step back. Execute what he calls the Rule of 3. At the start of the day, mentally fast-forward to the end of the day and ask: “When the day is done, what three main things do I want to accomplish?” From this you form intentions on what you want to accomplish.
  • Being busy, even in ticking off the things on your to-do list, doesn’t mean you’re being productive. This gives an illusion to productivity, but only when you step back do you discover whether you have accomplished what you thought you did in the busy-ness.
  • Start small in working toward productivity. Real change takes time and intentionality. “Write down everything in your job and personal life that you’re responsible for. Then ask, if I can only do one of these things every day, which adds value/meaning to my life (I would add or to that of another who matters deeply to me)? Ask again of the remaining tasks. And a third time.”
  • We all have limitations and constraints in our life. Bear those in mind as you plan and execute and evaluate. Being hard on ourselves won’t get us to greater productivity. Small, incremental steps toward change should be celebrated.
  • Work on one thing at a time. Single-tasking. Working mindfully.  “Multi-tasking holds people back from accomplishing more over the course of the day. It stimulates your mind; it’s like being busy. However, it actually makes you less productive, increases your errors, decreases your memory,  and takes longer to do everything” [in reality]. “You can only focus on one thing at one time. You then dedicate 100% of your time, energy, and attention to one thing – it will yield the highest productivity.” Counter-intuitive, I know, but I’m beginning to believe the wisdom of this.
  • Procrastination involves 7 triggers that cause your mind to resist certain tasks: when they are boring, frustrating, difficult, ambiguous, unstructured, lacking intrinsic reward, or personal meaning. We put off doing those types of tasks (which often are ones we actually need to attack to be truly productive) and instead while away our time on social media or marathoning Netflix. Chris Bailey gives a way out: “Once you step back from the task, noticing you’re procrastinating, trick the triggers – reward yourself, set time limits, structure it, etc.”
  • Mindfulness is continually bringing your attention back to the work that’s in front of you. Chris Bailey uses meditation to build “attentional muscle”. Taking mental breaks (however you do) is important to make attentional space which we need for creativity. Our mind goes back and forth from “the essential executive mode (constantly thinking of something, like when on a smartphone), and the mind-wandering mode (like when you’re in the shower). You often have those brilliant ideas while in the shower.” Make space for building attention and creativity. Take breaks and disconnect a bit from the internet or Netflix (you knew that was coming, right?).

I am so encouraged by the possibilities of building capacity in my time, energy, and attention. Chris gets us started with his 100 Time, Energy, and Attention Hacks to Be More Productive. Remember, he urges us to start small. Change one thing, maybe, in each area. It’s a process but one we can master toward gaining a life of greater meaning and capacity, accomplishing what we have hoped for…not just waiting for the future self to do it. We can be more that person beginning today.

Blog - Chris Bailey - Productivity Experiment

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Chris Bailey – A Life of Productivity – Website

The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey

Unmistakably Creative – Podcast with Chris Bailey – Bridging the Gaps in Our Productivity

The Top 10 Lessons I Learned From a Year of Productivity by Chris Bailey

100 Time, Energy, and Attention Hacks to Be More Productive by Chris Bailey

YouTube Video – The Path to Meaningful Work: Chris Bailey at TEDxGatineau

Five Habits that Help Chris Bailey Stay Productive

From 90-hour Work Week to Rising Before Dawn, Author Experiments with Productivity – CTV News

Chris Bailey on Twitter