It doesn’t take much life experience to realize that there’s an enormous disparity in the way people work. You can walk into almost any department store and find salespeople who greet you with a smile and go out of their way to help you find just what you need . . . and others who sit behind the counter talking to each other and act as if your questions are an intrusion on their conversation. You find builders, subcontractors, suppliers, and craftsmen who take time to do a job well, pay attention to detail, and take pride in their work . . . and others who rush through a job, cut corners, and focus more on increasing their profit than on turning out excellent work.
As well as how these people see work and how they see their work, the quality of their work grows out of how they see themselves as workers—and, as a result, how they work.
In a social environment that gives many mixed messages about work, where do great workers get their paradigms of great workers?
Some have been raised in families or cultures that value a strong work ethic. Asian immigrants to the United States, for example, have earned a reputation in the workplace for their solid work ethic.
Others work in strong, value-centered organizations that teach employees to see themselves as excellent workers. It’s a pleasure to go into those environments. If they’re part of a national or international chain, you feel comfortable that wherever you go, you’ll receive the same high quality service. Hopefully, wherever these employees go in the future, they take with them the vision they acquire through training on the job.
Some have learned to be great through observation and experience. They’ve seen qualities that have led to the recognition and promotion of others and have chosen to integrate those qualities in their own lives.
Others seem to have an innate disposition to work. Regardless of their upbringing or environment, they seem to recognize the satisfaction and fulfillment that come from working hard to accomplish a meaningful purpose or goal.
Whether or not you have the advantage of family or cultural influence, corporate training, experience, or innate personality, you can choose to become a great worker. You can choose to be excellent in whatever you do.
And why not? If you’re going to work, you might as well work wonderfully. Mediocre employees are poor leaders, poor team play- ers. They get passed up for pay raises and promotions. They’re generally frustrated and bored. They find little or no satisfaction in their work.
So why not commit to excellence? You’ll contribute more. You’ll feel better. You’ll make more money. You’ll generate more credibility and have greater opportunities. Whether your work is in the family or out of the home, the more you learn to see it in terms of excellence, the greater fulfillment you will find in it.
Astorga, Henry. “Asian Work Ethic—Fact or Fluff?” Today’s Asian Business Strategy Ezine, September 19, 2001; see also Kotkin, Joel. Tribes. Random House, New York, 1993, see esp. Chapters 5–6.