Building a strong work ethic

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What is work ethic? Why is it such a big deal and how does one have work ethic? Why must we have work ethic?

man working hard in the office

This compound word is the differentiating factor between those who consistently succeed in the workplace, life or business and those who just get by. We hear the term ascribed to some of the people we admire the most – from Nelson Mandela to Steve Jobs, Kobe Bryant and Christiano Ronaldo.  What is work ethic and why does it even matter?

Let us deconstruct the word:

  1. Work: mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment (The Oxford Dictionary)
  2. Ethic: a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct (The Oxford Dictionary)  

We can combine the two definitions to arrive at a set of guiding principles that directs how a person behaves at the place they earn their income. In the most basic terms, on one hand it is what the workplace expects and on the other, it is what a person does to ensure they deliver what the workplace expects. Work ethic also refers to how you feel about your work, career and your behaviours and attitude as you carry out your functions.

This attitude or behaviours are key characteristics that define how you handle situations and respond to crisis or difficult circumstances. How you feel about your work/career shows up in things such as:

  • Putting in extra time to ensure your team completes a project on schedule.
  • Consistently delivering on expectations, accepting responsibility when you fail and being dependable.
  • Honesty, Integrity and how much trust people have in you 

So, what’s the hype?

Well, people with a strong work ethic are more reliable and dependable at work. Close your eyes and picture that colleague everyone looks up to. How would you describe that person’s work ethic? Very impressive, no doubt.

Building a good work ethic goes beyond just being a hard worker. It also raises your value with your employer. People with a strong work ethic are more likely to produce high-quality work, be successful professionally, and best of all, make more money. A core part of building a long illustrious career starts with having a good work ethic.

Well, how do you develop one?

Developing a strong work ethic takes time, as your mind would need to acclimatize to certain practices. However, over time little changes in everyday habit would help build up the practice, and before you know it: WORK ETHIC STRONK!

  1. Be more punctual: In this part of the world, a lot of people tend to show up to events/meetings late (thank you African time). Adjusting your schedule to arrive just 5mins early makes a whole lot of difference in how prepared you are for that event/meeting.
  2. Eliminate distractions: We live in an age where distractions abound. What’s the latest gist on twitter? What’s the newest tiktok challenge? Did you see how “tallskinnyguy” proposed to “petiteprettyface”? So many distractions. Eliminating the noise helps you focus on what is important. This frees up more time for other productive task.
  3. Treat your body right: The impact of healthy eating and exercising can never be overemphasized. A healthy diet and regular workouts get your blood pumping, and releases endorphins. This helps you stay focused and more in charge.
  4. Compare your work ethic with someone around you whose own is phenomenal. Ask them how they do it. They will have some useful insight on things you might not be seeing.
  5. Be someone that others can rely on. Once you start delivering on time, and people start depending on you, the heartfelt “thank you” starts holding more weight.
  6. Lastly, it’s okay to breakdown occasionally. Just learn to pick yourself up and keep pushing. This helps you build that strong mentality, and you start to push beyond your limit. 

Ultimately, work ethic is a personal choice. A choice between having a long successful career, and a really frustrating 9-5. The choice is yours. 

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