When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ then get busy and find out how to do it.

~ Theodore Roosevelt

A solid work ethic is built by stepping outside of one’s self, while simultaneously digging deep down into their personal resources for the work, to invest their skills, to leave the mark of quality on a task. Whether it’s cleaning your own home or building a monumental bridge, stamp it with visible integrity and pride. A strong ethic is about more than fulfilling your job description and satisfying the minimum.

The current “State of the Work Ethic” is somewhat of a dichotomy; on one hand, there are people working several jobs solely to meet basic expenses, and on the other, there is an apathetic, yet entitled culture interspersed to create an extremely multilayered workforce. This situation begs the question then: Where does it come from, and who contributes to its growth? Does it play into the Nature v. Nurture argument? These are extremely subjective questions, as are most virtue questions, but in my opinion, as both a parent and an educator, I believe that it starts at home with parents. Period. It is determined at birth by the expectations, attitudes, role modeling, and opportunities provided (i.e. chores, jobs, homework, community service, etc.).

We can live and function in a demanding society, but once we step foot through our front door, the examples and good habits of the day can melt away if the home environment does not support the workplace/school setting. In essence, our true work ethic is revealed at home, where we feel safe and accepted, because it’s where we were given the initial guidelines and limits, by our caregivers. It’s like the old saying, “Do the right thing, even when no one is looking.” It essentially defines your core beliefs.

Understandably, many parents want, and try, to give their children an easier and better childhood than they might have had. But are we really doing them a service by skipping this discipline-building, life skill step? Children then go off to school, and later, work, without this internal framework. We can teach a child about work ethics all day long, but we must also reinforce it, by working in concert, across every line in their life. The development of responsible citizens, and our future society’s health and welfare depend on it.

Some helpful suggestions:

The Seven A’s of a Good Work Ethic:

  • Appreciation – demonstrating your gratitude towards others
  • Attitude – staying positive in every situation
  • Attendance – showing you’re reliable in every phase of your life
  • Appearance – being professional both in the way you act, and the way you look
  • Ambition – taking initiative and adding value
  • Accountability – living honestly and having integrity with every decision you make
  • Acceptance – having respect and following direction


Fortunately, a simple work ethic benefits literally every area of your life: how much you invest in relationships, commitment to education and careers, parenting styles, and overall outlook on life (abundance attitude). It is a virtue that touches every other in profound ways, improving lives and ensuring a sustainable future. Let’s all live with a renewed awareness of the degree to which we live and work with good ethics.

In Peace,

Debra Tiffany