There’s a lot of press regarding student loans, and the inability of former students to pay them back. It’s a deep topic, and one I typically don’t care to debate, because I’m more practicality-minded. In most cases, it’s my contention that if you racked up sixty grand worth of debt pursuing “film studies”, any “arts” degree, a very basic business degree, or anything that doesn’t result in a potential 100k a year job, then you probably made a mistake.
Besides, I spent my twenties and thirties outworking people with bigger degrees than mine. Thus, I’m of the mind that what you DO matters at least as much as what you KNOW.
But again, let’s not debate education. I do think it’s valuable. But I think in terms of your career, a good work ethic is at least as important as your degree. And maybe even more so.
So what is a good work ethic? A lot of people think it’s simply “working hard”. Yea, that’s part of it, but that’s pretty basic, too. I know plenty of people who “work hard”, yet do a lousy job. Plus, everyone, everywhere thinks they work hard. That cashier snapping her gum while she looks at her phone in between customers? She thinks she works hard. Enough said…
Here are three things that are consistent of those with a good work ethic.
1 – They Do The Best Job They Can, Every Single Time
People with a good work ethic care about the job they are doing. Whether it’s cashiering, cooking, assembling products, cleaning, data entry, fixing cars, etc., they do the best job they can. And downtime isn’t spent “checking Facebook” (what are you checking for anyway?) – it’s usually spent improving the work area, or otherwise doing something constructive job-related. Yea, co-workers may not like that person I just described, and think they are a “brown noser”, but I bet they go further in life.
2 – They are Reliable, and Honest
This means a few different things: It means showing up on time, every single day. It means leaving your personal problems / home life at home. It means owning up to mistakes made (we all make mistakes, but it’s a rare few that admit them and fix them). It means one’s word is kept. And yes, it also means no stealing (either materials or time). People that are truly trusted get ahead.
3 – They Eventually Become Known as the Person Who Says “I’ll Take Care of It”, and Then Really Does
This is the pinnacle of a good work ethic. People who are known as the person who says “relax, I’ll handle it”, and then REALLY DOES handle it (whatever “it” is), will go far in life. It may take a while, but becoming that person will never, ever hurt you.
I know much of what I just said seems a bit stern. Tough. This is work, and it’s your future financial well-being we’re talking about. The economy isn’t great these days, we have breadwinners working at fast food restaurants, and things like “income inequality” are big topics. But guess what – none of that is changing. Work on yourself, and your own work ethic, and let that be the base you build on. Your future financial self will thank you.