Unpacking Millionaire Key #1 (Part 3), Develop Strong Character, Work Ethic
On our journey to becoming millionaires, the next character development trait we will unpack is work ethic. I personally believe that work ethic is the trait that shapes the foundation of a person with millionaire character. A cornerstone if you will, upon which our ability to earn money is built.
In a recent article discussing work ethic, Jeff Nilsson suggests that Americans are working an average of 34.2 hours per week. That includes part-time workers. Full-time workers alone average of 47 hours per week. Since 1950, productivity has risen 115%. (1)
Despite the long hours and high productivity, people often describe the work ethics of others as lacking. Nilsson attributes this phenomenon to the nature of work shifting to the service industry where jobs are lower paying and offer fewer chances for advancement. (1) I can see the evidence of this in many businesses that I interact with daily in regards to customer service, cleanliness, and apathy of some workers. Is it the work ethic, the type of job, or just the age of the worker that are the cause of the decline in perceived work ethic? In a study about work ethic and industriousness, there was found to be no difference between generations.(2) Suffice it to say, I think work ethic is more deeply ingrained by how an individual was raised and what they hold for their own personal standards.
“It appears that as adults, many of us have forgotten how to pass along work ethic to our children” (3). Having a conversation about work throughout a child's life is not nearly as powerful as showing children what it looks like to work.
While my parents never became millionaires, my dad exemplified this character trait. I observed how hard he worked, regardless of the pay. To say my childhood was a roller coaster of cash flow is an understatement. My dad had a great job with UPS for many years, working his way up from loading trucks to center manager. One day, he came home from the city we were about to move to and said we weren’t moving after all. He told all four of us kids that he had determined the environment of that town would not be suitable for our long term success. In other words, he didn’t want his two oldest daughters to be in a place where marriage right after high school was the norm. I loved my dad for looking ahead and dreaming a life for us that didn’t rush the families we may have one day. I didn’t want that life either. It didn’t take long before my dad found a new career. He bought a video store in a more promising area, and we all moved from Kentucky to Tennessee. In the three years he owned the store, I worked with him weekly. He taught me how to take pride in the store. He showed me how to welcome families and how clean it should be for every movie on the shelves. He taught me how to provide excellent customer service, calling customers who were late and treating them with kindness, not anger. He was a people person, like me, and showed me how to have relationships with people by valuing their support of the business. I also trailed along as he volunteered at different places. In those few years, I learned that work ethic must exist regardless of pay and that every person you interact with matters. I was in awe of how much he loved to work, and now I have a strong work ethic.
How then, did he have the character of work ethic but not achieve the millionaire status? While he worked hard up until he became ill a few years ago, he lacked the financial discipline and knowledge outlined in the other millionaire keys. I have followed in some of his footsteps but, I made a different choice. As Tony says in the book, “Many people fail to develop a strong work ethic, which is a choice itself” (3). I choose to be on this millionaire journey and have a work ethic that has aided me in managing challenging financial situations over the years. The choice you now have to make is, are you ready to reset your attitude and commit to a strong work ethic that leads you on a path to building wealth? Are you ready to join me?
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1. Nilsson, Jeff. (August 8, 2018). “Has the American Work Ethic Gotten Worse?” The Saturday Evening Post. Retrieved from
2. Zabel, K.L., Biermeier-Hanson, B.B.J., Baltes, B.B. et al. J Bus Psychol (2017) 32: 301. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-016-9466-5
3. Bradshaw, Tony. (2019). The Millionaire Choice: Millionaire or Not. You Can Choose. Morgan James Publishing: New York, NY. p. 22-23