Let’s Talk About Work Ethic

It’s 1:10am—I just woke up from a beautifully deep sleep—my mind is active and I’m thinking about, of all things, the subject of work ethic. Don’t ask me why, but I feel compelled to explore this subject a little further to better understand mine.

First, I’d like to consider a simple yet provocative question. Why do we work? I imagine many people—myself included—find this somewhat difficult to answer or distill down to a single point or two. Personally speaking, I can think of many reasons why I work. Here are a few of my motivations in no particular order:

-knowledge, growth, and cognitive well-being.
-building successful business relationships.
-providing for family.
-having purpose in life.
-the opportunity to solve complex communication problems.
-love for marketing, creativity, and the digital interactive medium.

I could go on filling this page with many more reasons, but I think the bottom line is that if we understand the ‘why‘ we are better able to look at the ‘how‘ —which helps us understand our own work ethic.
But what exactly is work ethic? Here’s a fairly succinct definition I like:

“Work ethics include not only how one feels about their job, career or vocation, but also how one does his/her job or responsibilities. This involves attitude, behavior, respect, communication, and interaction; how one gets along with others. Work ethics demonstrate many things about whom and how a person is.”

Sometimes my work ethic is super-focused and intense, other times more reflective and cognizant of the people and forces around me. With that in mind, here are a few points that I think characterize my own work ethic:

-transparent, open communication.
-flexible, open-minded, willing to take risks.
-respect for others; integrity and professionalism.
-‘can-do’ positive attitude (e.g. where there’s a will, there’s a way).
-strong commitment to go the extra mile. (e.g. if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well).
-9 to 5 —what’s that? —creativity knows not such archaic boundaries.

Like many people, I’m always interested in ways I can become more efficient in my career. Understanding one’s own motivations and work ethic can help build career intelligence in this regard. I use the word career—not job—because a career requires a sustained commitment and intellectual engagement, whereas a job is, well, just a job.

“The less a project or task or opportunity at work feels like the sort of thing you would do if this is just a job, the more you should do it.” —Seth Godin

[photo credit: Kevin Poulton via Flickr]