Attitude and Work Ethic

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Creating a positive attitude is one of the best things you can do for your productivity and your workplace happiness. People who have a consistently positive attitude are seen as approachable and can build more effective workplace relationships. A positive attitude also serves you well when you face challenges or setbacks – it breeds resilience. Coupled with a positive attitude, a strong work ethic helps you build strong relationships with team mates and superiors. A solid work ethic also helps you find reward in the work you do, and shows a dedication not just to goals and outcomes but to your overall professional development.

What Are You Working For?

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Being clear about what you’re working for is a key part of building a positive attitude and strong work ethic. If you are not sure what you are working for, it can be difficult or even impossible to fully invest in a project or in developing your skills. Take time to clarify what your personal goals are, both in terms of specific projects and in terms of your overall career. Set specific goals and then create plans to achieve them. Tie these goals to your day to day tasks and responsibilities so that you can keep them in sight. When working with a team, it is also vital that you outline clear group goals. Know what each member of the group is working for, and what the group is collectively working for. Find ways to consistently tie individual tasks or steps to the overarching group goals and to individual members’ personal goals. 

Caring for Others vs Caring for Self

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Is there really a difference between caring for others and caring for yourself? Too often, we assume that to show care and concern for others and their needs, we have to put ourselves and our needs at the bottom of the list. We may believe that we can either practice self-care of be a good colleague and team member who demonstrates compassion for others, but that we cannot be both. However, when we come to the realization that we have shared goals with those we work with, we can find a way to both care for ourselves and care for others. We may also realize that caring for ourselves is in itself a way of demonstrating care for others  — that by taking good care of ourselves, we become the best colleague we can be, which demonstrates care for others. 

Even more, we may hold the false belief that there can only be one “winner” in any given situation. As a result, we may believe that we can pursue our own goals or help others pursue theirs, but never do both. Seeing the ways in which everyone is interconnected, and the way in which everyone’s success benefits the entire group is an important attitude shift. When we can find a way to care for others and ourselves, we develop a more positive, productive workplace.

Building Trust

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Nothing undermines productivity and morale in a workplace like lack of trust. If people don’t trust you, they find it hard to work with you, invest in you, or pursue shared goals. Take the time to build trust with those you work with, and everyone will thrive. Many of the soft skills help to build trust – effective communication, openness and honesty, a positive attitude and a strong work ethic. Continuously demonstrating that you are trustworthy helps not only to build persona relationships, but also to create buy in for your initiatives and projects. People who are deemed trustworthy by colleagues share some characteristics:

  • They are skilled at their jobs
  • They are passionate about their work , with a strong work ethic
  • They communicate honestly and value transparency
  • They have others’ best interests at heart
  • They care about people and demonstrate this
  • They are self-aware

Work Is Its Own Reward 

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One result of adopting a positive attitude and strong work ethic is that you begin to see work as its own reward. When we operate from this standpoint, we are no longer working with others or completing tasks based on what we will gain financially or professionally from doing so, and this makes us seem more engaged and trustworthy. There is nothing wrong with valuing our salaries and other compensation – they are a vital part of why we work. However, when we take the focus off the material rewards for work and instead focus on the satisfaction we derive from the work itself, we are better able to grow and thrive. 

A person who clearly loves what they do and considers it a reward in itself is also more trustworthy, as others do not question his or her motives. If it is difficult for you to consider your work as anything other than the source of a paycheck or path to advancement, it may be time for you to consider why you do the work you do.  Learning to practice gratitude around your work is one way to learn to see it as its own reward. What does your work provide you in terms of satisfaction, contentment, excitement, and other nonmaterial benefits? Are you excited to do the work you do? Why or why not? Do you feel content at the end of the day with what you’ve accomplished? Every day won’t be a dream come true – there are always rough days! – but if you can find a way to love the work you do the majority of the time, you are on the path to greater professional and personal happiness.

Case Study

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Yuki always said she was only in her job for the paycheck. She really wanted to pay off her student loans and credit card debt, and she worked as many hours as she could to earn the money she needed. She was good at her job and completed her tasks accurately and on time, but seemed to derive little pleasure from it. She worked hard all week and counted the days until Friday. She often seemed unhappy or bored with the work. Her manager asked her what she felt she was working for – what were her goals? Yuki explained that she was working for a paycheck. Her manager then asked what she would be working for when the debt was gone. Yuki couldn’t answer. Her manager suggested she think more broadly about what she was working for, and how she could find other rewards in her work. They brainstormed a list of Yuki’s professional and personal goals and then discussed how Yuki could view her work in the context of these goals. Yuki began to feel more engaged in her work.