Episode 40. Work Ethic

Jan 23, 2017 | 0 comments

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Show Notes

Work ethic! Why do some people have tremendous work ethic when it comes to one aspect of their life (e.g., career) but struggle with others (e.g., fitness)? In this episode we debate the nature of work ethic.

Work Ethic

  • Scott wanted to share stories about work ethic and the development of it.
  • Scott remembers when he wanted to play hockey as a kid, his father say okay, but then — since Scott was a goalie — he had to go outside and practice with his father and brother every evening to make sure he kept sharp.
  • Kevin remembered that doing your chores as a kid was something you just always had to do; there was no sense of “If you do X, you get reward Y.” It was simply that… there are some things that need to get done — go do them!
  • Mike was ambivalent about the development of his work ethic, because he’s had good work ethic in various domains of his life, while being totally lazy in others, so pinning it down “work ethic” as this one consistent “thing” you have more of or less of doesn’t make sense to him.
  • For example, Scott wondered if Mike being lazy in school had “consequences,” i.e. the fact that he was extremely overweight. Mike’s answer: no, definitely not, because that was one area where he was trying his darndest to lose weight (not intelligently, mind you, but trying nonetheless).
  • An important part of this is self-efficacy and agency. With dieting etc., he felt lost and a lack of agency. But overcoming that — while it didn’t necessarily build “work ethic” — did build a sense of agency and self-efficacy, and that might be more important.
  • Scott remembers working in a factory doing hard manual labor and at first being horrified of the idea of doing that for the rest of his life, but then reveling in it, though partly this is because he was working precisely for the reason that he was working his way out of that life.
  • Everyone agreed that having a parent who believes in them is important; there’s an important thin line between “never good enough” and knowing deep down that a parent believes you are capable of much, much more.
  • Scott views work ethic as much more of a continuum. Some clients come to him and clearly just have no background or experience in hard work. Other clients, by contrast, have amazing work ethics, out of the box.
  • Based on the ways in which his own work ethic has manifested — first in one domain, then all of a sudden carried over into another domain where previously he’d had none at all — Mike thinks that a lot of people actually have something like hidden reserves of work ethic — they just need a switch flipped, in terms of agency, choice, intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation, beliefs, and that sort of thing.
  • As a counter-point, Scott points out that lots of people will say they have lots of motivation, and are passionate about something, but then… don’t back it up.

Links & Resources

Carol Dweck’s Mindset

Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated