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Work Ethic.

So with the first of the year, the personal, vacation and holiday time (otherwise known as PTO, where it’s all lumped into one kitty) started back at zero and everyone in the company has a clean account of PTO to use throughout the year. I like the approach of lumping it into one big pot o’ time because I’m not one that likes to call in sick. I believe that there should be an ambulance, hospital and/or questionable mortality involved when one calls in sick, unless you’re highly infectious, then I believe you should stay home or be willing to be dunked in a vat of Lysol on an hourly basis.

Because of the yearly mass reset of the PTO accounts, several folks have already taken a day or two from their kitty of time. This strikes me as odd. We have enjoyed a couple of long weekends through the holidays and with Martin Luther King’s birthday holiday coming up in a little over a week, we have another long weekend not that far away. The Big Projectâ„¢ at work is keeping me busy enough that I start to worry about the status of all the things I have my hands in when I’m not at work, so I guess that’s been weighing heavily on my mind as well, but I just can’t see calling off work right now just because the time is available. It doesn’t make sense to me, at least in our office. I can see if you have been working retail over the holidays and you want a vacation; it makes perfect sense to me to take some time off after the holidays, but just calling off because the time is available is a little strange to me.

I guess it boils down to work ethic. Everyone has their own work ethic, obviously, and I suppose everyone says that their personal work ethic is a strong one. I know I think I have a good work ethic. If I am going to talk the talk of “everyone has a responsibility to contribute to society and very few people should be a burden on the system”, then I need to walk the walk of maintaining my work ethic so that our family is as self-sufficient as possible. That’s one of the thousands of things that attracted me to Earl almost 16 years ago, he has a very strong work ethic that mirrors mine. In fact, I think he has an even stronger work ethic than I do because he has the patience to suffer much more bullshit than I would normally be able to stand. It’s one of the reasons I never followed up on my budding civil engineering career, I couldn’t imagine working in an atmosphere that was government run. I believe in doing what you need to do, when you need to do it because you believe that you’re doing the right thing. If that means doing something a little out of bounds of what you do on a daily basis, hopefully your employer will be the better for it and if you do it successfully, you’ll be the better for it as well. It’s always good to grow.

I’ve seen flight attendants who were engaged with their customers and care enough to go above and beyond for their customers. I’ve seen others love their career so much that they’ve been willing to do more outside of the airplane (but not while it’s flying) by doing what they can to better the careers of others that have the same position. And on the flip side, I have seen flight attendants who have flung pop out to passengers as quickly as possible so they can get back to flipping their magazine on their jump seat or go gossip in the back galley with someone else as equally cranky.

I believe that the folks with strong work ethic, no matter what baseline is used to measure that standard, are the folks that are the true “heartland” of the U.S., no matter where they physically reside. I once read an interview with Agnes Moorehead where she remarked that folks should work no matter what the situation because they’ll be contributing to the big picture, probably learn something from it (even if it’s that they don’t like that particular employment situation) and ultimately be the better for the experience. I love that. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I could find contentment in cleaning hotel rooms if I found myself in need of a different employment experience. I could also flip burgers, milk cows, drive a tractor or answer telephones. Would I be happy? Maybe not as happy as I am in a job that I love and is along my career goals, but at the very least I would be motivated to better myself, and that’s always a good thing.

And finding happiness in motivation is what keeps us moving with “forward motion” (my new professional buzzphrase of 2012 thus far).