Bezos in a tux and his Wife in a red dress.

How to Improve & Develop a Strong Work Ethic (Acc. to Jeff Bezos, Michael Jordan ETC) – Part 1

The question is, how do I improve and develop a strong work ethic? To dig up a real gem of an answer…

…we’ll need to arm ourselves with more shovels – that is, these questions:

  • What is a strong work ethic, really?
  • How do I maintain a good work-life balance to avoid burnout?
  • How many hours should I work to be successful?
  • What kind of mindset do massively successful people develop to attain a strong work ethic?

Let’s start with the easy one.

What Is A Strong Work Ethic, Really?

Work ethic definition: “The principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward.” Hmm…

Strong work ethic definition: “A strong work ethic is an important part of being successful in your career. Work ethic is a set of values based on the ideals of discipline and hard work.”

Those are the answers handpicked by the Google collective. I’m not saying they’re bad, but my mind works better with more concrete abstractions.

Here’s a flawed but helpful (I think) description; the way I like to see a strong work ethic —

A strong work ethic is the collection of various mental tools and forms of energy we use to fuel the consistent habit of working harder and longer than most.

What tools & forms of energy fuel work ethic?

  • Habits
  • Discipline
  • Motivation
  • Willpower
  • Mental toughness
  • Positive thinking and reinforcement
  • Negative reinforcement
  • Affirmations
  • Endurance
  • Etc

Another great angle to observe strong work ethic from is through the lens of conscientiousness.

Conscientiousness (the Big 5 definition) is the combination of the following:

Industriousness: Very industrious people are typically successful in school and in administrative and managerial positions (particularly if they are intelligent). They live primarily to work and always have to be doing something useful. They do not like to sit around. They are very dutiful. They don’t put things off, or mess things up. They finish what they start, and they do it on schedule. They are always considering how to accomplish more in less time, with fewer resources. They have remarkable focus.

Orderliness: Orderly people can be somewhat disturbed—even disgusted—by mess and chaos. They would rather keep everything tidy and organized. They think in comparatively black and white terms: things are basically good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, with less room for grey areas. They tend both to make and stick to schedules. They like everything where it should be—and are happier if it stays where it should be. They are somewhat detail-oriented but tend not to be obsessive.

Alrighty. Now that we worked through the “what is a strong work ethic, really” question, it’s time to delve deeper. Into the glorious realm of how and what:

  • How do I maintain a good work-life balance to avoid burnout?
  • How many hours should I work to be successful?
  • What kind of mindset do massively successful people develop to attain a strong work ethic?

Jeff Bezos’ Secret To Keep A Good Work-Life Balance & Avoid Burnout

How do I keep a good work-life balance?

This, according to Amazon titan Jeff Bezos, is the wrong question.

It’s not about work life balance. It’s about energy.

It’s not about work life balance, because that implies that to pursue one, you must give up the other. Yes, of course it’s possible to work so much, Say, 100+ hours a week, and completely mess up your home and personal life.

But Bezos contends that working 60 to 70 hours a week can be incredibly healthy, not just for your business, but also for your family and personal life.

The right question to ask, according to Bezos, is, does my work energize me? And the things I do in my personal life, are they energizing me?

If your work fills you with energy, you’ll be able to pour out that energy into your personal life, bringing the overall quality of time spent up. The same thing applies on your home life. If the things you do with your family and friends bring you energy as well as energize the people around you, that’ll overflow into your work life, bringing the quality of your work up.

Think of it this way. If you are sick for a week straight, you’re not working at all, and bedridden. You’re spending literally all of your time with your family, and literally no time working.

But that time spent is decreasing your energy and the energy of those around you, bringing the overall quality of life down.

On the other hand, let’s say you have an exceptionally busy week at work. You put in 70 hours, but you only spend that 70 hours on the things your truly passionate about.

In theory, not only will this improve your business substantially, but your home and personal life as well, because when you get home, you’re brimming and overflowing with energy – joy, excitement, enthusiasm.

You only have an hour or two with your family, but even just one night of quality time in this state of mind is vastly superior to the entire week of you being sick.

Conclusion (Kind of)

So again, it’s less about work life balance, and more about the positive energy vs negative energy balancing act.

So we’ve solved, to some degree, the work/life balance problem, and the question, how many hours should I work? Or have we?

This is where I think this answer falls short. Not to say that Jeff Bezos got it wrong. I’ll bet he has the rest of this figured out too, I just haven’t heard him speak on it yet.

Observing those questions from the energy angle is insightful, and incredibly helpful. But to drive to the full potential of this answer, we need to dig deeper.

With yet another question:

How do you identify specifically what energizes you, and what drains you?

To be continued…