A strong work ethic is part of an individual’s personal values. It’s based in a belief of the value of work for its own sake and not just for its rewards, however rewards are often the main driver for putting in the effort for many people.
Modern descriptions include, hustle and grind, which for me have negative connotations. I don’t want to live a life of grind, do you?
If you love what you do, you’re more likely to be pulled towards it, rather than pushed to do it. This is the ideal, something surely worth striving for. When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work, you’d do it without monetary compensation.
However, even if you’re doing what you love, there will be times when you have to do certain things or tasks you don’t particularly like or relish. You have to be prepared to do what it takes to get to the other side of whatever that thing is. You have to have plenty of willpower to motivate you to do the difficult things. Willpower is finite, it runs out throughout the day as you use it up, but recharges when you sleep, so get into the habit of doing the difficult things first thing in your day, when it’s fully charged.
In this sense, work ethic is important. You’ve got to be a doer, a get your head down and get it done, type of person. I’m not sure if it’s an attribute that’s naturally built into some people, but I know it’s certainly not in some individuals.
I suspect that it’s something you are conditioned into either by your parents or guardians as you grow up.
It’s no good just being an ideas person, without the motivation to do the necessary actions to make it a reality. Much of the learning comes from “doing”, without which you’re never going to be anything more than you already are. Jim Rohn says “If you want to have more than you’ve got, you’ve got to be more than you are.”
Having a strong work ethic will ensure you’re putting in the time, but without a strong sense of direction and a focused plan, you’re going to be like a directionless piece of driftwood, being pushed and pulled by the tides of circumstance.
Time spent doing something isn’t enough for you to make progress, you have to focus on the important things, the things which will ensure your progress. Don’t brag you’ve spent 3 hours in the gym, where you’ve spent most of that time chatting or reading the paper. If you go to a gym, you must know someone that seems to be there all the time, without doing a ounce of noticeable exercise. Don’t let that be you. Put in the work when you should be doing it.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a big advocate of having a strong work ethic, he brags about hustling 18 hours a day. He loves it, and doesn’t see it as a grind for him. He is right when he says, if you’re moaning you’re not where you want to be, or you don’t have what you want, then get off your arse and put in more time. Extra time fixes all vulnerabilities. If you don’t like your day job, maybe start an online side business and work on building it after work and evenings, late into the night if you need to, rather than wasting time watching the television. That will give you an extra 4 – 5 hours per day, if you really want it enough. Most people don’t have that level of dedication.
However you must be careful not to burn yourself out. Pushing work ethic too far can actually reduce productivity, and make your work become a real chore. It can also have a disastrous effect on family life, so don’t let it get out of hand.
For more about motivational influences, check out our Motivation guide.
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Strong work ethic quotes
“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” – Muhammad Ali
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein
“Let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Think not of yourself as the architect of your career but as the sculptor. Expect to have to do a lot of hard hammering and chiseling and scraping and polishing.” – B.C. Forbes
“Sheer effort enables those with nothing to surpass those with priviledge and position.” – Toyotomi Hideyoshi
“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo
“The average person puts only 25% of his energy and ability into his work.” – Andrew Carnegie
“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” – Napoleon Hill
“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” – Tim Duncan
“The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.” – Wayne Gretzky
“Talent is never enough. With few exceptions the best players are the hardest workers.” – Magic Johnson
“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” – Muhammad Ali
“I’ve always worked very, very hard, and the harder I worked, the luckier I got.” – Alan Bond
“You can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned, and you’re down to your reflexes – your training. That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of morning, you’re getting found out now, under the bright lights.” – Joe Frazier
“Every time you stay out late; every time you sleep in; every time you miss a workout; every time you don’t give 100% – You make it that much easier for me to beat you.” – Unknown
“Nothing worth having comes easy.”
“All roads that lead to success have to pass through hard work boulevard at some point.”
“You can’t have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic.”
“Success requires action and a strong work ethic.”
“Work like there is someone working twenty four hours a day to take it away from you.” – Mark Cuban
“People are born with brains, talent, and/or money, but work ethic levels the playing field.”
“Be humble, be hungry, and always be the hardest worker in the room.”
“If you build a house with your work ethic, dedication and preparation, would you trust it’s foundation enough to live in it.”
“Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged people who kept on working.”
“Do what is right, not what is easy.”
“I don’t have a good work ethic, I have a real casual relationship with hours.” – Janeane Garofalo
“The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.”
“No shortcuts, work for it.”
“Dreams don’t work unless you do.”
“Hard work beats talent, when talent fails to work hard.”
“Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do.”
“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”
“Wisdom is knowing the right path to take…Integrity is taking it.”
“Dreams are worthless if you’re not prepared to do the necessary work to realise them.”
“The harder you work the luckier you get.”
“Work hard and become a leader, be lazy and become a slave.”
“You’ve got what it takes, but it might take everything you’ve got.”
“Having a strong work ethic comes easily when you’re being pulled rather than pushed towards your goal.” – getrsesults.org.uk