This weekend I started reading an excellent book by George Anders called The Rare Find. I am not finished with the book yet but so far I am finding it very helpful and informative. One section that I read recently talked about the concept of strong work ethic. Anders notes that this is a universal concept but also that it is idiosyncratic and different depending on the occupation:
On Wall Street it’s the sudden determination to get to Cleveland in a snowstorm, no matter how badly transportation is snarled, so that a key client meeting can happen on time. In medicine, it’s a mid-career willingness to spend weekends and evenings staying abreast of new research findings instead of coasting on knowledge gained twenty years ago. And so on.
After reading that I kept crossing passion with work – ethic. To me they are almost interchangeable. When you love your field it’s not really work to read industry research or attend seminars on the weekend. In the Anders quote above, the relentless determination to make it to a Wall Street client meeting could be a stand-in definition for Wall Street culture. Wall Street is full of people who don’t rest after the deal is done, they love what they do and are out the following day looking for the next big deal. Want to work on Wall Street? Want to understand it’s culture? There you have it.
So what does a strong work-ethic mean in your company? Is it fueled by people that do “homework” over the weekend? The tinkerers? Or is it fueled by people “working late” just to say they work late? What about you? Are you tinkering over the weekend? Or leaving work behind once you pull out of the parking lot on Friday?