Work ethic, where’s it come from and what feeds or hurts the drive to be anything but lazy.

The fire in the belly fuel to go above and beyond. How do you create and maintain that productive work ethic laboring spirit that just won’t quit? I don’t know about you, but during my childhood raised on a Maine farm, the parents did a stellar job. Creating a desire to work hard and do a good job at the family home, school, out in the work force, in your community.

They worked long hours and we knew no different but did not feel picked on. It made us resourceful, independent, sometimes glad to be done a job like picking field rocks. But we did it. Other kids in small Maine towns did too.

You’ve all heard the story about anyone from Maine applying for a job out of state was hired instantly. It’s no secret about Maine’s work ethic.

maine farming work ethic
Learning How To Work, Enjoying Labor, Sticking With It. Work Ethic Is Developed, A Muscle To Tone.

Daily, my three older brothers and I witnessed Mom and Dad working hard daily on the Maine farm.

Both parents grew up on dairy farms where everyone in the large families works vital roles. When you are around hard workers, you are taught the importance of carrying your part of the load.

How to save steps to do the work of two. You don’t want to be labeled “lazy”. You don’t just work, you want to be the best at the labor.

Standing around watching someone working their guts out is not fun or comfortable. The pitch in and help out gene activates when you grow up in rural Maine. Where money is tight and frugality is a survival sport, As you got older in a Maine household where your parents owned and ran a Mom and Pop business, the list of duties increased right along with the new skills added to your resume.

When your Mom or Dad praise you for doing a good job, completing the task well it makes you beam.

Causing pride and to feel worthwhile appreciated is a warm sunshine feeling. When told we can count on you Sonny. To realize you and your brothers, all the kids in this Maine household are a vital part of the family. Where I need you and vice versa and everyone works together. All the cylinders firing in order, on the same page for the common skills to get the job done. Before moving on to the next items on the lengthy chore list. Don’t waste the daylight.

Work ethic, local farmers in my area hired kids to pick potatoes in the fall, to put up loads to ship down the road over the winter.

Not everyone was lucky enough to grow up on a Maine farm. But that did not mean jobs to earn money were not in abundance in our small rural area of the Pine Tree state. My Dad swore that kids did a better job handling the potatoes than mechanized harvesters. He raised 250 acres of golden spuds. All the crop hand harvested with four baskets in a barrel. Then pickers adding their ticket number in the groove slot on the top.

Eight row crop harvesters cover a lot of acreage quickly but leave boat loads of potatoes behind of all sizes. The rough handling damages the soft skin with cuts and bruises. That impacts the value in storage and out on the market later on. The produce buyer pays less for lower quality potatoes.

But back to today, work ethic, how is it viewed in society? What is happening to it as a highly sought after commodity when hiring your work force? There are cracks in the give it all your got in the work place.

Was work ethic instilled in us as a society from lack of any other choice?

Survival using our own wits made it imperative to learn life skills to not just exist but to prosper? You will freeze to death if the winter wood is not cut, split, stacked and racked. No garden canning in the root cellar. How are you going to eat and feed your family if you don’t. There was no welfare in those early days.

But affluence and automation and too much free time happened. Internet, interstate eroded small town in Maine traditions. What does that do to the importance of work ethic in a person’s mind? I have been told by one not so ambitious soul that there are only two kinds of people on Earth. Hardworking vocation people and the easy going vacation types. He proudly told me he was in the latter group.

Working hard to get out of labor.

Hope there is an income stream to avoid disappointment for kids raised in that atmosphere. Work hard, have fun, but not until your chores are done. To me it makes leisure time more enjoyable and satisfying.

maine fisherman work ethic
Row Your Own Boat. Maine Farmers, Fisherman, Wood Loggers Know Work Ethic.

Back in high school, my oldest daughter learned the importance of putting her picking potatoes experience on her application to be a page in Washington DC. Her selection centered a lot around the fact she got up early to head to the potato fields of Northern Maine as a young child.

The interviewers for the page position may have thought this was a form of child abuse at age nine picking potatoes.

Collecting baskets of spuds to fill the potato barrels for her Great Uncle Fred with a watchful eye of a cousin Joan maintaining a section next to hers. She got the job over a slew of applicants and was in DC during 911.

Today the labor law rules of when and where a youngster can work for how long impact the work experience.

If a child is handed money and develops the attitude this is beneath me to have a regular job outside the home for spending money, that is another kink in the hose to learning work skills. Early in life chores around the house to pick up and help out are the foundation for the “you gotta work to get ahead”. For the pick up after yourself and your parents are no servants. Moms and Dads have to let go of the do everything for the child if they don’t want to cripple their outlook on having chores, performing tasks.

There is a self satisfaction from being trusted to mow the lawn, do the dishes, take your turn at laundry and cooking.

When else is the trial run to develop the you can do it skills going to happen? In a person’s 20’s when everything out on your own and not tied to mom and dad’s purse and apron strings are severed? Dependent on another is not how work ethic is born and bred.

Picking fiddle heads, squeezing apples in presses to make fresh tasty cider to sell. Collecting returnable bottles, raking leaves. Collecting eggs. Raising beef. Helping someone clean up a shed or move out of a house. Work. It has many shades of colors.

Work ethic sprouts from patience and instruction of parents, teachers, employers, your coach and others in the small Maine village. They all help develop life skills.

Picking Rocks On Maine Farm
Labor Of Love, Beauty From Maine Rocks.

If as a kid to raise money they did more than the couple hours one night stand at the helm of a lemonade stand out on the front lawn. The entrepreneurial spirit of walking dogs, stacking firewood, flipping burgers, busing restaurant tables, babysitting or being a life guard or working at the local parks and recreation center sticks with a kid.

Riding your bike or walking to school, work or the movies. If you are an impatient kid being carted everywhere you go. Telling parents to hurry up or why did you keep me waiting with an annoying tone? Ouch. That does not go hand in hand with a cheerful attitude and do it yourself work ethic independence training. Labor is not always fun, done quickly and life is not always entertaining the message here.

Entry level work…. the sooner you have logged those hours under your belt as a kid, the better the experience of life becomes.

The kids have a growing skill set repertoire that builds and provides inner confidence. Rather than relying on others to perform routine tasks, the kid says “I got it”. I can do it. Here I go” without delay or dependence on another.

The college graduate who is not applying the sheepskin or two earned in their major. Who feels forced to work under someone highly skilled but that missed the expensive four year post high school educational experience. If the attitude is I should be the boss without working my way up through the ranks of restaurant, mechanics or whatever discipline service providing, that mindset is not helping.

The manager has to sit you town to tell you how the operation works and what your responsibilities are going to be or there’s the door.

Tough love that was not applied early makes the task of being a manager more touchy and emotional. Definition of work ethic… here’s one “the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward”. You want to get ahead, you can achieve anything with the right attitude, the stick with it approach working above and beyond.

farm work ethic
Working On The Potato Crew On A Mane Farm. Making Your Own Money As A Kid Teaches Work Ethic. How To Handle Money Too.

Passion, drive, you can do it encouragement all fuel work ethic. The kind that sustains and is not a flash in a pan cram for a test pulling an all nighter. Because you procrastinated which only makes for added pressure and poor results.

What is work ethic like, another definition found online ….

“Work ethic refers to the act of working hard and diligently. Often, those with strong work ethic equate working hard with morality and strength of character. A good work ethic is characterized by integrity and high quality work.”

Less oversight, more determination, better organization, thinking about the team approach to the task at hand are all components of worth ethic.

The “if it is to be, it is up to me” is what brings the individual into the army of one empowerment. Not dependent on others to make it happen. No delays, no finger pointing and making it all what is my role, what do I have to do to pull this off right now.

Today, most of the Google searches on work ethic revolves around sports drive. The examples are record breaking habits of top paid sport athlete stars work ethic spin to stardom. They say a work ethic is based on hard work and the automatic habits ingrained early on before bad ones take over like weeds.

Start early and teach delayed gratification, self control with kids if you want them to have the ground floor preparation for work ethic.

homesteading maine work ethic
Helping Area Farmers, Woodworkers, Fisherman In Maine. That’s Where Kids Get Their Entry Level Jobs. For Spending Money. The Jingle In Their Pocket.

If you are a parent who shuts down because your kids don’t particularly like the regular chore list and just feel it is not worth the grief, you missed the boat. Early on, so the kids develop the habits before weighing in with a teenager’s opinion and rolled eyes.

Spouting off how lame it is that you are expecting them of all people to perform household chores and an after school job indicates you waited too long.

Trying to reason with them on the importance of a solid work ethic.

Or attempting  to guilt them into a positive spirit when they labor.. that won’t work either. If everything was done for them, if they were waited on like they have servants so lifting a finger to help themselves is not expected. You harvest the seeds of what was or was not sown.

Some McDonald’s jobs require a certain age requirement and limited hours.

But if your kid has good grades, get the note from the school superintendent so your child can work. Managing money they make and not the twenty dollar bills you supply like an unending stream from an ATM will help them avoid credit card debt later in life.

kids jobs in maine
Working Early, Learning Much For Later On Life Skills. Did You Flip Burgers?

Saving money may sound boring but it goes hand in hand with impulse control and hanging on to what you earn in entry level jobs. Working for someone else may be the key too for professional training out in the real World.

Those limiting labor laws for students job working regulations don’t apply to the farmer’s kid. Business owner’s kids have families that are lucky getting taught work ethic.

Anyone working jobs as a youngster learns customer relations, how to hang onto the paycheck, dependability to show up when expected.

Dangerous jobs like hooking on a wood skidder grapple cable to twitch out trees landed by a Paul Bunyan with the chainsaw are not for kids not taught safety.

But mowing your own lawn does not mean the kid is going to automatically lose a limb. Respect, not mowing on wet terrains with a steep side hill wearing flip flops or barefoot and pushing the rotary power mower is something observed by a parent, an older sibling.

Remember. Never look at a lawnmower. Make sure you know where the discharge is going for safety sake. There is a right way to approach anything in life. You gotta have a system both parent’s taught us growing up in Maine. Practical is not square. Measuring twice to cut once saves time and money in the long run.

Easy does it, concentrate, focus on what you are doing. Be careful but you can do it. Thought taught to the youngster long before pulling the starter cord when it’s their turn to weekly keep the grass clipped for pride of the family home to happen. But beyond don’t go in circles and make sure young grasshopper not to leave un-mowed strips.

And weather young blade runner, Jedi wannabe grass clipper, make sure this lawn gets manicured weekly.

The time and day you do it subject to change. Be flexible. Lawn mowing like farm pasture field haying revolves around the weather. You can’t skip a week or you need a bush hog. Too hard on the riding or push grass mower if you don’t stay on top of clipping lawns.

When is work ethic a double edged sword?

selling farm produce
Working The Land, Selling The Produce At A Local Farmers Market.

When down time for vacations and a change of pace, if sleep is squeezed out of the daily schedule. Exercise, rest and family traditions all need to be salt and peppered into a person’s life.

If kids grew up with a parent gone out to sea for six months at a time, they may decide not me. I’m going to be happy with the 9-5 Monday through Friday. And okay, working every other weekend to be a team player down at the hardware store. Less free time means better use of the hours in your day to make it come together easy peasy.

Or I want to teach to have a work schedule that dove tails best with spending time with my children.

Today, the work less and demand more money could make it challenging to keep valuable employees. Off shore jobs taking away local employment could ramp up because of the “I’m not going to work that hard for that little pay” attitude. If a new hire lets the boss or supervisor know he or she is not a morning person. That everyone just get started at 7AM and I’ll be along… eventually. Punctuality and dedication to pride yourself for being on time may not be shared by all the workers on the team.

work ethic volunteering
Work Ethic Goes Beyond Your Job. It Spills Over Into Local Volunteering.

When you had little and worked hard to get ahead was the only logical course, everyone marched to the same beat.

To keep the wolf from your door, the meals on the table and to make ends meet. The family worked together and knew the seriousness of what happens if you don’t.

Our country’s concern about first not third world problems is a concern.

Now with abundance, affluence and too much free time that work used to fill, entertainment to keep boredom at bay needs feeding. Satisfaction from a job well done reflecting on your character to feel filled with pride is shifting. To make sure you had a good time, that the experience was fun is first and foremost for some. Volunteering makes it the other person’s joy is your pleasure however.

Mental and physical hard work is not fun on the surface.

The day to day chores need to be done by everyone in the community. And when they are not, resentment from able body slackers allowed to take more than they contribute occurs. Apathy can happen if the little red hen decides why keep bothering to make all this fresh baked bread by my lonesome self? Workers and lazy people approach life from an entirely different view point.

People moving to Maine often do so to raise their families in small towns. Where the entire village raises the kids. Where there is a neat connection and folks do know and care about each other. That kind of kindness is not found in impersonal, over populated areas with high crime and steep cost of living pressures.

Small towns populations in Maine work hard to survive and prosper. Want to be part of that atmosphere raising a family, running a business, enjoying vacations or a golden retirement? Maine, are you thinking start of the new year with a relocation move to Vacationland?

I’m Maine REALTOR Andrew Mooers, ME Broker

207.532.6573 |  |  MOOERS REALTY 69 North ST Houlton ME 04730 USA