S2 EP153 – Is Hard Work for Losers?

Episode Summary

Today we want to speak to the issue of being willing, or not, to work hard to get what you want. It seems that hard work is a challenge for many of today’s young people, and this is what Erika has often been encountering.


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul and Dr. Erika Chopich here with the Inner Bonding podcast. Today we want to speak to the issue of being willing, or not, to work hard to get what you want. It seems that hard work is a challenge for many of today’s young people, and this is what Erika has often been encountering.

(Erika)I grew up on a farm, which wasn’t always easy. There was much work to be done all the time – before school, after school, and on weekends. There were endless chores with animals to tend to and gardens and fields that needed caring. But what I did have growing up was an appreciation for very hard work. I know that most baby boomers in general were a very hardworking generation. It’s how my generation was raised. Hard work isn’t your enemy. It’s the paintbrush that paints the picture of who you really are and what you’re really made of.

Today I see a different consciousness emerging in our society. Over the years, we’ve hired many young people on our ranch and in our barn, and I would estimate that at least half of them are very hardworking, conscientious people, but the other half I find curious. This other half has a way of being in the world where hard work is to be avoided. Hard work is for losers – that somehow you should scam your way through life doing as little as possible while making as much money as possible. I watched them in the barn just marking time to get a paycheck. They sit on the sidelines and watch others work but feel that they are winning the game of life by avoiding hard work. As Margaret said to me recently, they believe that without any significant training, they should be the CEO rather than having to start as the janitor.

I’ve also noticed that the hard working members of our crew have greater self-esteem, a greater sense of accomplishment, and they have more empathy and more compassion than those who like to just not participate. Hard work is a feedback system, as it helps us define who we are when we have challenges to meet or goals that we want to accomplish. I don’t believe I ever accomplished a single goal in my life without determined hard work. The people who want to get away with as little as possible never embrace hard work with gratitude. I’m very grateful for the hard work that challenges me because I understand how it leads me to a greater purpose. It gives me more depth and more satisfaction and joy than not participating. I deeply value hard work, even to this day. I believe this sitting on the sidelines watching somebody else do hard work and thinking that they’re losers is a dead end journey for anyone, and I’ve often wondered how does this come to be?

It was some time ago when I finally realized that the very kids in the barn who would not perform, who could not succeed, who had no motivation or joy in their lives, were often the product of overindulgent helicopter parents who did everything for them. They float through life with a sense of entitlement, waiting for someone to do it for them or give it to them or praise them for absolutely nothing. Ultimately, they become lost souls who have nothing to offer and their self-esteem, if they have any left at all, suffers greatly. They simply cannot find a good healthy and loving spiritual path.

To this day when I’m engaged in very hard work that challenges me, there is an underlying sense of joy, because it is through that hard work that my thoughts will always drift to something greater, thoughts such as, “I’m not taking care of my hay field because I don’t own it. I am the steward of my hay field. I’m not the owner of my horses – I am the guardian of my horses. I am in charge of their well-being.” I take great pride in giving back to nature and back to the animals with my hard work. It gives me great joy and satisfaction knowing that I can do it, and that each year I get better and better at it. I love the hard work. It has kept me strong and centered my entire life. My hard work is a place where my loving adult and my inner child meet. I’ve come to realize that my loving adult and inner child love hard work, and my wounded self hates it. So I don’t put my wounded self in charge of work, which is what I think might be happening with people who think they are winning when they try to get away with as little as possible.

Work rarely feels like work to me because I always make it fun, and it always opens the door to my spiritual connection. So then it begs the question: “Why would you want to stand on the sidelines and mark time and do absolutely nothing?”

We really don’t get to skip our life lessons. No matter how hard we try, they are there. We hone our intentions, and we hone our character through our own tenacity and hard work. This has always been true, and it is not going to change. I hope the next time you approach a difficult task or some hard physical labor, you are able to open to the joy of it with your inner child and your higher connection and when that task is through, that you may harvest the deeper definition and power that is you.

 (Margaret) I’m so grateful that Erika loves hard work and knows how to run a ranch, because she does an incredible job of making sure that our ranch is a very beautiful and peaceful place.

I want to address something she brought up, which is people who feel entitled to do nothing yet expect to receive the benefits of hard work. Research has shown that praising children for their effort supports them in working hard, while praising them for being smart and for their ability, leads to much less effort. Those praised for effort weren’t afraid of failure, while those praised for being smart became too afraid to make effort due to fear of failure, and the fear that parents and teachers would no longer see them as smart.

Dr. Carol S. Dweck, author of the extraordinary book, Mindset, said,

“…telling children they’re smart…made them feel dumber and act dumber.”

As I look back on the kids I grew up with and went to school with, I can see this in action. Often, the kids who were told how smart or talented they were, or how much natural ability they had in a given area, such as sports or math, were the kids who never lived up to their potential. Those kids who were not given a “potential” to live up to were often the ones who did really well.

As we can see, praising a child for abilities contributes to the child becoming externally defined. This child says, “I get approval when I succeed. My worth is attached to success.” This creates a fear of not succeeding and therefore of not being worthy, which not only limits what the child tries to do, but also limits the enjoyment of it. The child is no longer learning for the joy of it, but for the approval, and will stop trying if it appears that he or she is not going to succeed. Failure, to this child, means, “I am a failure.”

On the other hand, those children praised for effort rather than for abilities learn to be internally defined. They keep their natural enjoyment of learning. They are excited by the prospect of a challenge because they are unattached to the outcome of success or failure. Failure just means that they will try harder. Success or failure doesn’t define their worth as a person.

A major way of supporting your children’s self-esteem and ability to work hard is to praise their efforts rather than their abilities.

When I was growing up, everyone I knew was devoted to doing their very best at whatever work they did. Everyone I knew had a sense of integrity about their work, getting good feelings from doing their very best.

When I graduated high school over 66 years ago, all my friends were deeply motivated to do well in college and do their very best at a job.

We all had a very strong work ethic, which meant:

  • We did not have entitlement issues – we did not think of being handed anything without working for it.
  • We did not try to get away with as little work as possible.
  • We had no problems starting at the bottom and working our way up.
  • We had a sense of integrity about our work. It meant something to us to put forth our best effort. We felt a sense of inner worth at giving our all to something. 

But today, too many people do not have this work ethic. Instead, as Erika said, they are resistant to hard work and try to get away with as little as possible. When they do work, they work half-heartedly. They expect to be rewarded even when they have done a poor job. They expect to be handed stuff without working for it. And one of the reasons for this is two little words that we hear over and over from parents and teachers – “good job.”

When I was growing up, I never heard “good job” for anything less than a stellar job. Now, kids hear “good job” for everything, from finishing the food on their plate to turning a somersault. Many children not only get approval for everything, but they are handed so much and catered to so much that they grow up feeling entitled to it. Many parents scrimp and deprive themselves to give their children everything they didn’t have, only to have the children grow up expecting others to give themselves up for them and cater to them. 

My parents were poor, so I had to earn and save money for everything I wanted, starting when I was very small. Nothing was ever handed to me. There was no one to give me a charge card (even if charge cards had existed at that time!) or any extra money. Sometimes I wish it would have been easier, but at other times I’m so grateful that I learned to put forth my very best effort. It never occurred to me to do anything less, and as a result I learned early the joy that comes from doing my best.

In school, my teachers were not trying to bolster self-esteem by giving out a “good job” for every little thing. We had to earn our accomplishments and earn the good feelings that come from making effort. 

Today, too many children grow up believing that their good feelings come from external approval rather than from their own efforts. They lose touch with doing for the joy of doing and learn to do for the approval. This takes away their internal motivation to do well for the joy of it. They get so addicted to approval that they even forget how to put forth their best effort.

When we find helpers – a handyman, plumber, electrician, housekeeper, assistant – who get obvious pleasure and a deep sense of self-worth from doing their very best, we think we have found a treasure! What a joy to know that this person is not going to try to cheat us or slack off because they have a deep sense of integrity – a wonderful work ethic.

And how sad that there seem to be so few people like this, especially younger people.

What about you? Does hard work deter you, or does it enliven you? What is your work ethic?

Like Erika, I’ve often been stunned by the poor work ethic of many of today’s young people. An example is a young woman who was cleaning our previous house every week. She stated that she really wanted the job because she was saving her money for school. But, after working for us only a few weeks, she called on the day she was supposed to come – two hours after she was supposed to show up – and informed us that she wouldn’t be here that day because she had family coming into town.

I told her that we would need to find someone else, as we needed someone who was reliable.

One of our young friends who had been working with us on and off for about four years, was equally disturbed by the situation – especially since the young woman who was supposed to show up was a friend of hers. “This happens all the time,” she said. “I don’t understand it. None of my friends have a decent work ethic. They just don’t seem to care. They are so entitled, and they think things should be easy.”

When I was growing up, if I wanted something, I needed to find a way to get it myself. So I started to earn money when I was very young – four years old! I wanted a two-wheeler bike and the only way I could get it was to earn the money. So I found many ways of earning pennies, and I was able to buy my bike when I was six years old. I learned very early the value of putting forth my best effort.

During my adolescence, I worked summers and after school, and I worked all during college. Because my parents didn’t start to do well financially until I was into my 20s, I never expected anyone to provide for me financially. This was true for the young woman who was upset about her friend, which is why she had a great work ethic.

But it is not the case for most of the other young people who have worked for us. Most of them have parents who consistently bailed them out financially, who bought them cars and paid for their tuition and living expenses.

These young people grew up, not with their parents’ work ethic, but feeling entitled to being taken care of. This seems to lead to a lack of caring, integrity, commitment, and hard work.

For example, the young woman who didn’t show up to clean, knew that we needed to keep our house very clean because at that time we were trying to sell it. But she didn’t care. It’s this lack of caring about the effect their behavior has on others that is so concerning. I believe that the people with this poor work ethic don’t care because they never had to – their parents cared about them but never expected caring in return. This creates entitlement issues.

All this is very sad to me, as these young people never receive the great satisfaction and aliveness of meaningful hard work, and the satisfaction of acting with integrity. Not that cleaning someone else’s house is deeply meaningful – although it is to some people who really enjoy cleaning – but integrity and caring are. People who value their caring and integrity are likely to find much more satisfaction in whatever work they do than those who don’t.

What are your concepts about work?

When you think of ‘work’, what comes up for you?

  • Work to me is an opportunity to do what is fulfilling to my soul.
  • Work is something I have to do to earn a living, but I always feel resistant to it.
  • Work is creative and exciting.
  • Work is boring.
  • Work is something to put off or to try to get out of and do as little of as I can.
  • Work is an important part of life. For me, there is little difference between work and play, because my work is what I love to do. 

In her wonderful book, “The Continuum Concept,” author Jean Leidloff writes about the two and a half years she spent with a Stone Age South American Indigenous tribe. One of the tribe had left as a young child to live in the city, returning as an adolescent. In this tribe, everyone worked growing food as part of their life, and everyone wanted to work. It never occurred to them not to. However, this young man had been raised in the city and to him work was something to be avoided. He lived with the chief but did no work. When Jean asked the chief how he felt about the young man not working, the chief laughed and said something like, “He doesn’t yet know that he wants to work.” The chief was not at all upset about taking care of the young man and thought it funny that he didn’t know that he wanted to work.

In the city, the young man had not developed a work ethic. Instead, he had been influenced by the attitude of resisting work and thought that he was getting away with something by not working. Finally, one day the young man realized that he actually wanted to work, and all his resistance disappeared. 

I’ve always wanted to work. To me, work has always been an opportunity to manifest myself in creative ways and offer my gifts to others.

Do you miss opportunities to manifest yourself and fulfill yourself because the opportunities look too much like work, and you think you don’t want to work? If this is true for you, you might want to explore where you got the belief that work is something to be avoided.

Did your parents have work they loved or was work drudgery for them?

What did your parents role model for you about work? Did you see them being proud of themselves getting pleasure from doing the very best they could do, or was work just necessary and hard and something to avoid when possible?

Have you ever had the experience of feeling proud of yourself at working hard and doing a good job? It’s a wonderful feeling that greatly enhances your sense of self-worth, and if you’ve never had this experience, I encourage you to trying working hard and see how you end up feeling. Also, as Erika said, hard work leads to a deeper spiritual connection. I find that when I’m deeply immersed in my work, I have a sense of being one with my higher guidance and that’s when I’m most creative. When I work with my clients, I’m totally present with my whole intent to support them in their healing and in being all they came to the planet to be, and I receive much information from my guidance and their guidance about what would be of help to them. When I’m writing, I’m deeply immersed in the process of expressing what’s important for me to express, and I have the wonderful experience of feeling like my higher self is doing the writing through me. I just love this experience. This would never happen if I was attached to the outcome, or I wanted to avoid work or avoid failure. This wonderful experience happens for me due to my joy in fully expressing who I am. This can happen only when you embrace hard work rather than avoid it.

I hope you try working hard and doing your very best. You might be very surprised about how you feel!

You can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships, and doing your very best, from my recent books:

And we have much to offer you at our website at https://www.innerbonding.com.

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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