Along with every thing else I teach, I teach the work ethic.
Someone asked me the other day, “How do you do that – meaning how do you teach the work ethic? Do you think it’s too late to teach someone in their 30’s the work ethic?”
I had to ponder this a bit as I was sure she was referring to her spouse. But to answer her question more accurately, I think it is important to start teaching the work ethic when kids are young so they appreciate the value of hard work; the benefits of hard work; and develop a love for hard work.
I love to work. I always have. Even as a kid I loved to work. It was fun. It was rewarding. And I always found value in it – whether it was personal or monetary – there was always value. It opened doors that were otherwise closed. It offered opportunities that were not there before. And in opportunity there is the chance to grow and learn and become more – more of the person you want to be.
So when I teach the kids about the work ethic, I am teaching them to learn to love work, no matter what it is, and to become that person who knows how to work and work hard. When kids complete a task there is an internal satisfaction for having done a job well. It is often expressed in the ever familiar comment, “Well that was satisfying.”
Kids begin to grasp the idea that good work offers many benefits. Benefits for the animals, for the ranch, but also for themselves. Self-esteem grows; confidence flourishes; perseverance pays off; will-power happens; strength is inevitable; and opportunity awaits. In this is the freedom to become anyone you want to be and to do anything you want to do. But it comes from hard work verses wishful thinking.
As the kids work, I pay attention. I notice the kid who bends down to pick up baling twine. I see the child who double checks the gates. I marvel at the one who sweeps the stall so thoroughly. I see it all. And I comment on it all. While too, I also see the flip side aspects of work which is laziness, quitting, helplessness, whining, complaining, and dragging down the crew to name a few. I comment on these as well, so kids fully understand just how they are showing up.
I like to teach kids how to build their own business’ starting with the product they are selling to creating their business cards for marketing. I teach them to create a good, solid product; always provide value; and always, always have integrity in sales.
Thomas who is all of 6 years old has started his business called Thomas’ Farm Fresh Eggs. When one of his young chickens laid her first egg, he stared at it, horrified at how small it was, and proceeded to tell his parents, “I can’t sell eggs like this!” Integrity. Needless to say the first egg is typically very small. And much to Thomas’ relief his hen started laying much bigger eggs after which Thomas enthusiastically began handing out his business cards!
Taylor started Taylor’s Babysitting Services with a great tagline of “Safe, Fun, Responsible” keeping in mind this is precisely what parents want to know. Value. She designed a memorable business card specifically geared towards young kids which will easily end up on every mom’s frig.
One of my past students who is now 23 sent me the following. Not only did it make me laugh out loud but I was filled with such pride for her and how hard she has worked. The lessons of childhood were not lost on the young adult of today.
“Something funny came up today that I just HAD to share with you. John was telling me about his ex-girlfriend and all the problems he had with her. I said, “Well didn’t she work two jobs, at least she has a good work ethic!”
He said, “Out of everything I just said, that’s what you took from it? Sometimes I think that all it takes to win you over is having a good work ethic!”
And I told him, “It’s certainly a good place to start on my scorecard!”
I thought about it and I realized that I was lucky enough to have been taught at a young age by you and my mother that work ethic is a discipline that is rare to find in my generation. I have found that to be 100% true and I still to this day believe if someone has a great work ethic they are a true diamond in the rough!
Now that I’m entering the “adult world” I have become increasingly appreciative for the values I learned from you. Thank you for instilling my want to WORK! ”
Teach a kid to work and you give them one of the greatest gifts of life. Those that know how to work will succeed in life. They will be able to sustain themselves in both good and bad times. They will simply know how to get down to the business of the day and achieve their goals and problem solve their way to solutions. In this days and age especially, take the time to teach your kids a love of working. You will be glad you did!
Kim Chappell, M.Ed., Instructor and Equine-Facilitated Life Coach. For further information on riding programs and Equine-facilitated life coaching, you can contact Kim at email@example.com or go to www.chappellranchllc.com