Monday, August 17, 2015
Laboring From Dawn 'Til Dusk
Work Ethic. Some people have it, some people don't. But why? What imbues in some people the desire to work, work hard, work efficiently, work consistently, work until what needs to get done gets done?
On the other end of the spectrum, what is it that causes some people to have no or very little desire to work? Why do some people consistently seek shortcuts or the easiest way to do something, even if those shortcuts or easier ways mean an inferior or unacceptable final result of their endeavors?
This is a subject that intrigues me simply due to the wide variety of interpretations and opinions of the value of having a good work ethic I have encountered over the course of my adult life.
There have been many people who have shared with me their negative views of a work ethic being considered something of value, invariably with the opinion that the whole concept of having a good work ethic was the creation of the owners of property and/or capital in order to get the most from the laborers they employed.
Which is a odd idea to me, as it completely and illogically ignores those individuals who work consistently hard at developing talents or abilities that are singularly self-serving, such as artists, writers, musicians, athletes, scientists, etc. - none of those people get paid much, if at all, for the thousands of hours they work to hone their craft, learn to play a musical instrument, develop their physical abilities to their fullest, etc. Their work ethic, their devotion to being the best they can possibly be despite the risk of never making a dime from their efforts, contradicts directly the belief that the concept of a work ethic was a synthetic creation by a ruling class of any sort.
Then there are the people who have shared with me their positive views of a work ethic's value. They invariably use themselves as examples of what can be made of one's life if one has a good work ethic. I must admit, I've never met anyone who made a statement like that and who actually exemplified a good work ethic that wasn't fairly successful at just about everything they set out to do.
But those views of the value of a work ethic have never really answered the question of how one goes about developing or not developing a work ethic. Is it part of a person's genetic make up, an inheritable trait? Is it a result of the environment one was reared in? Does it have anything to do with self-esteem or self-worth? Or is it just the luck of the draw?
Can a person actually develop a work ethic? Is it possible to teach a work ethic? Would it be possible to take someone with a poor work ethic, say any of the hundreds of perfectly healthy (mentally and physically) homeless people manning just about every intersection, off ramp, and public gathering spot in the Denver metro area and teach them to work hard at something other than holding a sign in one hand and holding the other out for whatever they can get?
This is probably one of those questions I'm going to have to spend a lot more time and effort on in order to find an answer - it might even be one of those mysteries of the human condition that is unanswerable.
I'll just have to work on it.