Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, August 29, 2011

Working Harder

In our American culture, entertainment and free time is highly prized, probably more than work is. A few years ago when I was still at Costco, I worked with a few women from the former Soviet Union. They ran circles around the rest of us. They moved faster, focused more and generally upped the production when they were on the shift. It was embarrassing how slow I felt next to these women. Not even the youngest, fittest workers could keep up with them.

Once I asked Kloudia (from Bella Rus) about this. She said, "In my country, you have to stand out or you lose your job. It's how things are."

Do we have it too easy here? Is there a sense of entitlement? I don't mean politically but personally with individual work ethics. I struggle with this myself, with a tendency to self-indulgence and laziness. Not to mention procrastination, the curse of my existence. Lately I've wanted to challenge myself in certain areas and lengthen my stride.

Now that lazy ol' summer is winding down, I am feeling the push to step it up. No one is pushing me, it's simply the motivation that comes from within. Every day counts and all that.

"Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible." ~Francis of Assisi

"Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs." ~Henry Ford

"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes." ~John Wooden



29 comments:

  1. I think many of us living in relatively prosperous nations do take what we have for granted, especially when all around us is more and more bad news. We start to think we have it pretty bad, when in truth we are very fortunate and should be thankful for the good things in our lives.

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  2. Sometimes I need a little push, but I feel like I can be at either extreme. Many times I push myself too hard at work and don't relax enough to enjoy the down times. I think it all has to do with how you were raised and what you value in life. (Plus if you keep busy, you get more done!)

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  3. Yeah, I do tend to think there's a lot of room for improvement in the American work ethic. Though I have to say, with the current economic woes, I have seen a slight improvement in the service industries. Maybe people are trying harder to keep their jobs.

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  4. Ah, great quotes - great advice! I needed some of that, I'm procrastinating with my packing right now. ;-)

    I feel peoples work ethics are challenged when new immigrants come into a country, I see that in my home country and here. I think it comes back to culture and values and ethics.

    Have a lovely week!

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  5. I do feel we have it too easy. I look at my child and think about what she has and the vacations we take that i never took growing up and think, "she had no idea how good she has it."
    I love your quotes. Makes me want to get out and work on something. :-)

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  6. It's so true that we can slack off because we don't know how good we have it. I think it comes down to priorities. If we want to do well, we work hard. The more you desire, the harder you'll work. Those women desired to keep their jobs, and it showed. I think that says a lot about them and those of you who were in awe. To us Americans, it's just a job (although these days, a job is something to covet). But it isn't just a job: it's a livelihood. Great post!

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  7. With the job market being what it is today, (or more like what is ISN'T) it's hard to believe everyone who has a job isn't working his hind quarters off in the hopes of keeping it. But there are still a lot of slackers in the work force. Unlike those who've been out of work for many months, I reckon the slackers haven't yet learned that a job isn't an entitlement.

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  8. A lot of it has to do with the way the entire work force is changing. (I don't think we're that different here in Canada). Back in my mom and dad's day, people got a job and had it for 40 years and then they retired. Things aren't like that anymore. Not many organizations want 40 year employees any longer. They want you part-time so they don't have to pay you benefits. Or, they want you while your young and fresh out of college so they don't have to pay you the big bucks.

    It's just a different time and the sense of "oh my gosh, I better do my best or they'll fire me", is falling by the wayside. It's now more like, "that's okay, I'll find something else".

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  9. Motivation is definitely best from within. These are great quotes that make getting out there and doing something not quite so intimidating. Well, guess I've procrastinated my work out long enough, eh?

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  10. I can certainly relate to that last quote. Doing nothing is easy, but very very boring. Can't wait to get busy making more mistakes, which I have a natural talent for. :)

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  11. I've lived overseas and you're right - some people here don't know how good they have it.

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  12. I love the quotes!! I think my work ethic is taken from my mum. She held down three jobs to feed and clothe us and would have carried on working if she had not been forced to retire. Also being the youngest in my family I ended up being my siblings' servant - multitasked like crazy.

    I know that my work ethic at work drives people slightly bonkers. I can't abide what I see as laziness in others and I'm very bad at hiding what I think when I percieve this especially when I've been running around doing this that and the other.

    But when it comes to my writing - I am the laziest person I know and get easily distracted! But at least I'm only hurting and affecting me and no-one else.

    It's different in a team.

    Take care
    x

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  13. I'm no expert on US culture so won't comment - but I'm totally with you on needing to challenge oneself. Every day counts : absolutely.

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  14. I like that -
    what's necessary, then what's possible
    I feel similar though Im in a different country, and feel the same urge to push myself, its aback to school buzz, but also like you said, life is short... (and i sleep far too much!)

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  15. I like the last one since it recently happened to me. It reminded me to check and recheck and then check once more to make sure I didn't make some glaring error.

    Conversely, maybe those Russian girls get worked too hard?

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  16. Just enough to get me riled up to do more! Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Many people in other countries produce out of fear. It's a hard habit to break.
    I'm not sure for everyone in this country it's feeling entitled. I think it's also about choice. If you choose not to excel and do your best that's laziness as far as I'm concerned not entitlement. Those women you worked with chose to do there best here -- maybe a little fear was still present.

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  18. ...agreed, there's a certain amount of "extra" production that is now expected in the workplace in order to remain outside their radar. It's frustrating, but unfortunately this has become commonplace. Safe to say that the '90's are gone and reality has long set in.

    EL

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  19. Good questions Karen. On our farm none of our four children wanted to continue what we worked so hard to build, a very succesful organic meat business. They saw how hard we worked and said "Nope, not for us" Are they really lazy or really smart ? In the meantime we continue to build a strong business with non-stop customers and hope to sell it all soon so we can (insert quilty sigh here) relax a little, but to whom ? Who wants to work so hard these days ?

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  20. I have to agree with Alex's comment...
    But, having been a teacher and married to a principal, I feel that push to unwind and relax during the summer....okay call it what it really is: being lazy. And then in the fall that urge to get moving and actually do something is automatic. I've been feeling it again this year. My car is at the starting line and I've been revving up my engines ready to push the gas pedal to the floor. Know what I mean?

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  21. We have it made here! Spoiled and entitled...
    My area is a total blend of MANY of people from various countries. Most of them outwork the natives (if there is any such thing here). I think the ladies from the former Soviet Union fall right into that category.

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  22. Procrastination is definitely one of my biggest weaknesses even though my life more or less revolves around work. I've been procrastinating on writing my dissertation largely because I'm afraid that I won't write anything good.
    I think there is definitely a sense of entitlement in today's culture. One frustrating thing I've had to deal with as a teacher is getting students to realize that school is a job. Several of them have quoted, "Don't let school get in the way of college." That's true to some extent, but they're also paying thousands of dollars to be there. I tell them that a lot of what they get out of college is what they put into it.

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  23. Hi Karen .. Kloudia's comment unfortunately makes sense .. the push is a good thing, but can be overdone. We need to motivate ourself - our life is our life .. Here's to the push towards Autumn and Christmas .. do what we need to and can today, tomorrow will take care of itself ..

    Cheers - Hilary

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  24. Great story. It's good (but hard) to push yourself. It's good (but hard) to stand out and make people understand your worth. I constantly wonder if I work hard enough. I hope I always push myself like Kloudia did.

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  25. I do think that we have so much, we have come to expect it. Many around me here are without power due to the hurricane. Hard working crews are plugging away trying to fix everything but folks are critical that the lights aren't back on. "Shouldn't someone have planned for this?" they think. Yet, how do you plan for Mother Nature and her devastation? Perhaps I have more patience because I do have power...but with trees and lines down everywhere, it seems like people need to be more realistic. As a society, we are so used to turning a switch and getting what we want, we have limited patience when the switch doesn't work. Not a desirable quality.

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  26. Wow. Very interesting! That has new meaning to hard work. Thank you for posting this!

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  27. I don't work as hard as I did at the start of my career but I like to think I'm more efficient.

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  28. Great quotes! My summer was full of laziness. Now it's time to get motivated...the snow helps.

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  29. we were raised by our families to have the work done yesterday. So business boomed.
    until unions came in and gave employee a sense of entitlement.Then young kids came in and would not bend to pick up a piece of paper cause its not their job. lol
    Then businesses began to close because you can't run a business giving big salaries to employees who didn't work.
    And that's the way it went.

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