At a Glance: Is your work ethic as great as you think it is? Long hours and missed lunches aren’t the true indicators of a great employee.
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You’re at the office an hour before anyone else. You frequently forgo lunch with coworkers to slog through more paperwork at your desk. You stay at work long after everyone has left, and then you head home where you’ll likely spend another hour or two on your laptop. That's some work ethic! Or is it?

Jason Fried, co-founder and CEO of Basecamp, has a radical notion about work ethic. (Side note: You may already be familiar with the viral TED talk in which he proposed that the American workplace adopt a no-talk Thursday policy because “a tremendous amount of work gets done when no one talks to each other.”)

Fried says the real meaning of “good work ethic” has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of time you spend working. For Fried, the quality of your work and the way in which you take care of your responsibilities is the true test of your merit.

Here is a checklist of actions and ideas that Fried considers to exemplify a truly strong work ethic. How many boxes can you check?

Work ethic is about...

  Showing up

  Being on time

  Being reliable

  Doing what you say you’re going to do

  Being trustworthy

  Putting in a fair day’s work

  Respecting the work

  Respecting the customer

  Respecting co-workers

  Not wasting time

  Not making work hard for other people

  Not creating unnecessary work for other people

  Not being a bottleneck

  Not faking work

  Being a fundamentally good person that others can count on and enjoy working with

Adopting a quality-over-quantity approach to your workday — and your schoolwork — could transform your entire life for the better. Whether working hard to avoid distractions or practicing showing classmates respect, you’ll quickly learn that a strong work ethic can take you far.


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