Key Takeaway: I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.
The book "Reviving Work Ethic" has a very good message in how to get people, especially young people, to develop a work ethic which has been a bedrock of America’s economic success, i.e, people working hard everyday to earn a good living, take care of their family and elevate themselves. It is a core American value that is taught from childhood.
The author argues that we are losing this core value as he has been observing (based on his extensive research, varied experience and numerous speaking engagements with young people) that we are becoming an entitlement society -- people wanting and expecting things without really working hard for it.
The book recommends that we need to revive our work ethic which has made American economic success an envy of the world and help build a thriving middle class. It is a simple message, presented in a no nonsense way in a readable form supported by plenty of real world examples.
The book is well organized in that the author first clearly states the problem of lack of work ethic in our society. He cites, according to the Rasmussen poll, that “58% of adults don’t think work ethic will pay off, and another 16% weren’t sure.” He further adds that “adults eighteen to twenty-nine were by far the most pessimistic age group on the topic of work ethic.”
Next, he defines work ethic as “knowing what to do and doing it. It is marked by an individual’s positive attitude, reliability, professionalism, initiative, respect, integrity, and gratitude.”
Before he explains in detail each of the attributes of good work ethic, he develops a work ethic matrix to illustrate where people are falling today in this quadrant, which include the following: idle, lucky, cheating and valued. By following the solid work ethic principles, an individual can gradually move to the coveted Valued Quadrant and become the kind of employee that employers want to hire and keep, while at the same time the employee can become a productive member of the society who has extricated himelf from an entitlement mindset.
One of the main reason for this distrust has to do with young people seeing every day that leadership around them is failing. For example, our political leaders care more about getting re-elected rather than solving intractable problems we face today; business leaders are more interested in generating excessive profits over people and community; and military leaders being caught up in an inappropriate relationship while on duty. This does not engender trust.
Young people want answers and don’t want to be lectured on why they need to develop work ethic when we can’t provide answers to why we are leaving them with a $16 trillion in debt that keeps growing We risk coming across as an adult with a smoking habit telling his rebellious teenager to quit smoking by saying, “Don’t do what I do, but do what I say.” Not sure it worked in the past, but it definitely is not going to work today.
The author does not touch on this in any detail since his purpose in this book is to focus on reviving work ethic. This is admirable but work ethic has become a table stake skill for success today. To compete and thrive in the global economy, employees today need to take initiative, be creative and bring passion to work with a purpose in which they believe. Unless employers understand this and come to a common understanding with the young people, they both will continue to talk past each other and not work constructively in creating a trusting relationship that can be mutually beneficial.
Notwithstanding my criticism of this book, overall I am giving this book a 4 out of 5 stars, since it is an important topic and the author does a good job in presenting it. The book is short and quite readable with practical examples. I recommend it for people who want to get a fresh outlook on work ethic so they can better understand it and instill it at their workplace.
Jay Oza is a founder and principal innovation development consultant at 5ToolGroup, a company that specializes in helping startups and established firms bring innovation to market within 90 days through our unique 5Tool Methodology that integrates sales, marketing, partnerships, customer development and agile/lean methodology to enable frugal or ("Jugaad") innovation. We believe that to succeed today, you have to continuously look for ways to do lot more with lot less. This is the only way to win today!