During my dad's generation, about the worst thing you could call a man was "lazy". Whenever my parents talked about anybody they admired and listed their good qualities, the words "hard-working" would be in there somewhere. Yet somehow, by the time they got around to my generation, the programmers had misplaced the memo. I'd really like to talk about this and see what you other men have to say. WHAT ARE "good work ethics"? How do you overcome or avoid lapsing into laziness? Some guys make themselves get up at a certain time every day whether they are tired or were up late the night before or not, just because of their work ethics. Is that common? I've attended at least two seminars where the speaker talked about punishing yourself for not meeting your goals. Do any of you do that? How do you push yourselves, and how do you overcome poor self-discipline? I don't plan on participating much in this discussion because I need to learn--this is definitely a self-improvement need on my part. Thanks!

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Hmmm...how to explain this. I'm not real sure, it's something you just DO.

Motivational speaker once said (perhaps it was Stephen Covey, can't remember) that all these rich people out in the world didn't just wake up rich one day. They made a CONSCIOUS decision that they were tired of just floating along, and decided to do something about it. In May of 2k7 I left Virginia Tech for a full time job at a local Two-Way Radio shop. I left VT due to the fact it would be at least another year before something opened up full-time, and I got $5 more an hour at the new job...so I go, and I bust ass for this guy, trying to be the man, and do everything he wants, right?

A little background, quickly. Company built by Gentleman A, who died inbetween my first and second interview. Company passes to his granddaughter and her stupid husband, who thinks he knows technology. This couple has also previously run two businesses into the ground according to members of the old guard at this company.

So I'm humping for this guy, and doing everything I can. Three months go by, and he comes outside with me at the end of the day and tells me "Don't worry about coming in tomorrow. We've decided it's not really working." I'm like...OMG. I begged for a job, for the first time in my life. I had a SON now, for God's sake. At one point, he actually tells me that part of it was because he'd give me A and B to do, and I'd go ahead and do C, D, and E while I was at it....I had to make him repeat that one.

I went home, and when my wife asked what was wrong (I'd done my damnedest not to show it, but hey...she's my wife), I broke down and cried like I've not cried since I was a boy. That was the moment I decided I was tired of the bullshit. Since, I get up earlier every day (when going to school and working, getting up early was not so easy because I stayed up so late), but I get up now between 5 and 5:30, and by 7 on weekends. I don't clean house much, and my wife hates that, but I'm trying to focus on learning to do things that will forward our financial health.

I'm the lead technician at work, and in training to take over the shop by this time next year. I get out there, and I sell the company, and I handle all my jobs as if I was doing it for myself, and how I'd want it done. My life has turned around...and the ADD medicine has helped with that too.
Hey Todd,

Don't know your background or anything, but if you've seen Gran Torino, then you'll remember the scene (or series thereof) of Toad working for Clint Eastwood's character. That is the fastest way to build work ethic short of military boot camp. I did exactly what Toad did in the movie when I worked for my great uncle for a month. Everyday up at 6am doing manual work outdoors until the sun went down. You learn persistence, work ethic, attention to detail, and a little voice develops in your mind that says something to the effect of "nope, better clean/do that again, Uncle Hans wouldn't be satisfied"...and it'll never leave you.

Oh yeah, and I'm going back to work for him for a month (again) just because I want to further refine my work ethic and determination to do a damn fine job at whatever I do.
I got my first job whn I was 14, I am now 57. Four things I got from my dad have served me well in those years.

First, your boss, manager, or whatever title fits, is there for a reason. If I have an idea for making things a bit better or faster, I pitch it to them. They either like it or not, either way it's not my problem that is what they get paid for. If the idea was a bad one so be it. If it was a good one and they pass on it; not my problem.

Second, I have tried at every job to work myself out of a job, don't be afraid of this as in all these years it has never happened and I doubt it ever will.

Third, I maintain the attitude that regardless of the task at hand I asked for a job and they gave me one. If I am being paid for eight hours, I give them eight hours. No job is beneath me and I am free to look for something else at any time.

Fourth, I do every job as if the the job of a lifetime is right around the corner and the way I do the current job will decide if I get that one. It very well could.
Read Robert Kiyosaki, too.
You bring up an interesting point, because now the catch phrase is"work-life balance" and some people want to be happy just "being". So even taking initiative and getting things done isn't always considered the norm. To me, being effective while being efficient is the ideal. I believe it was Henry Ford who said that “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” When he says thinking I believe he means taking initiative, creating something from nothing, and holding yourself accountable to results. To that end, the quality of the results are what matter, not necessarily the quantity of the time put towards them.
I've worked a relatively steady job in a variety of departments since I was twelve. I think a lot of work ethic comes from how we are raised. I was raised to work hard, make sure I did it right, and to accept responsibility for my mistakes. A lot of kids aren't. That eventually find its way into the professional realm.

To me a good work ethic is basically just taking pride in your work. If you take pride in it, stuff like doing a good job, being reliable, having the motivation...that seems to come with the territory.

Whenever I start slacking off, I always think of things from their perspective. The company is paying me to do a job, people are relying on me to do it well, and if I were in the position where I had a "lazy" employee, I would be extremely disappointed in that person. That's usually enough to kick me back into gear.

And as for programming...well, compiling is always a legit excuse to not do anything ;-)
It seems to me that one thing truly necessary for "a good work ethic" is having the peace of mind to effectively approach the job, individual task, or long time commitment at hand and to stick with it. A thing I've seen that really works against peace of mind is the lack of tangible results in most work. This results in anger, often repressed, but anger none the less. Yes, I lifted this Peace of Mind concept from Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but it really does apply to the work ethic. The other thing in my mind that is necessary for a good work ethic is a "reward". Be it a finely tune motorcycle, a finished shed that looks and feels right, or a great finishing time for that 10k run, a reward keeps the motivational juices flowing. The third thing that is needed for a good work ethic is the ability to sacrifice an immediate pleasure to the needs of the greater good or future necessity. And now, gentlemen, you must excuse me. I've used up my "indulgent time" for today, and must finish my chores, fix a couple of bikes and a scooter for my children, mow the lawn and water the yard.
My dad spent about 45 years working in a copper mine in Arizona. He only completed grade 8 due to being homeless. One of the things I remember is that he would never cross the picket line when the miners went on strike and he would go pick fruits and vegetables in the hot sun to try to make ends meet for a large family. He never collected welfare in his life. He was a reliable worker to the mine loyal to the union , friendly at work and got his job done in the tire shop. Our socio-economic situation was the working lower class below the middle class. Don't get me wrong. He had many faults. He didn't believe in counseling. He did believe in hitting you with a belt until you got it right. It didn't take too many sessions before the light bulb came on. He never drank on the job because the work was dangerous and he had to work as part of a team. Miners do not work in isolation. He did not believe in laziness. He was loyal to his family, friends and his dog.

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