Honing Your Skills, Fighting for Success: Building a Sound Work Ethic
“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
It may be tempting to envy the successes of others. This tendency, however, usually leads to detrimental self-accusations and feelings of inadequacy, cultivating negative energy that hinders rather than enables the pursuit of our goals. It’s important to remember this: behind every success there is a story of failure, disappointment, and discouragement. But really what are these if not what we would call hard work? Almost always success is accompanied by a sound work ethic. The will, the drive to continue when faced with adversity. Your work ethic is the set of governing principles that keeps you vigilant when times get tough.
No matter the circumstances, your work ethic dictates how you approach and carry out your work. It also helps you to set up work boundaries and recognize your capacities and limits. As you work towards your goals, you may designate certain hours of the days for work, and others for personal and family time. Your work ethic can help you maintain and sustain a healthy relationship with your work, making you much more likely to succeed rather than getting burned out with your work load.
A sound work ethic will also help you to begin to hone your skills. Some skills required for your work will come more naturally than others. Through consistent (and persistent) work, you’ll begin to recognize what you are good at and what skills need some time to be more fully developed. You may also realize that some skills are beyond your specific knowledge or capacity, therefore, prompting you to seek help from others or spend time educating yourself on some aspect of your work that is particularly challenging for you. Knowing your limits and capacities can also prevent you from unnecessary frustration and, in the end, may help you avoid major mistakes or set backs on your journey to success.
Building, and practicing, a sound work ethic may also ensure that you feel proud of and confident in the work you’ve done. When faced with failures or disappointments, your work ethic helps you know that you’ve done your very best in pursuit of your dreams. It also motivates you to continue working at times when it feels easier to give up.
Whatever the road to success, you can be sure that a sound work ethic paved the way. Maybe it’s helpful to think of your work ethic in terms of fighting; not in terms of fighting against, but fighting for. A boxer trains relentlessly in preparation for the big match. And his or her success story is not only one of thunderous applause, flashing lights, and the glory of winning. It’s a tale of blood, sweat, and tears. Of hard work. Learning this lesson can help you stay focused on your own goals instead of becoming distracted by the successes of others. Working is fighting for your success, and a sound work ethic keeps you in the match.