Time to Stop Whining and Start Grinding

4 min read

It might not be a popular opinion, but let me offer that encouraging people entering the workforce to develop a strong work ethic is not about glorifying overwork or sacrificing personal well-being. It’s about instilling the discipline and commitment necessary to excel in a competitive job market.

It seems to me that the younger generations of workers have become excessively reliant on instant gratification, overly sensitive to criticism, and often lack the ambition required to get ahead. Let’s face it: Instagram posts and funny TikTok videos aren’t likely to lead to glorious business careers, no matter how compelling they may be.

Rather, grinding away at a job without complaining, especially early in one’s working life, is more likely to deliver the long-term success that most desire.

Studio Romantic / Adobe Stock

Studio Romantic / Adobe Stock

Why Are They So Fragile?

There are many reasons that today’s younger workers are a bit on the “fragile” side compared to those of us from an older generation. After all, they’ve had to endure helicopter parenting, highlighted by participation trophies and over-organized and scheduled play dates. Similarly, they’ve lived through all the drama that comes with a social media obsession that borders on addiction. Case in point, what 20-something in their right mind doesn’t fantasize about one day becoming an “influencer!”

Regardless of the cause, we (from the older generations) do need to help these folks cultivate a solid work ethic—one that involves a dedication to tasks, a sense of responsibility, and a willingness to go the extra mile to achieve excellence.

Of course, this can be balanced by learning to work smarter, not just harder, and establishing a work-life integration ethos (a topic that I’ve written about here in the past) that allows them to thrive both professionally and personally.

However, we do need to begin by toughening them up by teaching them to be more resilient.

The Importance of Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and maintain a positive attitude, despite facing difficulties. It is a critical skill for personal and professional growth, regardless of age. Younger workers are often encouraged to be more resilient because they need to develop the coping mechanisms necessary to thrive in a competitive and demanding job market.

In an age of rapid technological advancements and economic uncertainty, young professionals must learn to adapt, overcome obstacles, and persevere. Resilience equips them with the mental toughness needed to navigate challenges, learn from failures, and continuously improve.

How to Begin

A great place to begin assisting younger workers to become more resilient is by lessening their preoccupation with instant gratification. Instant gratification hinders professional development. They must stop prioritizing short-term rewards over long-term goals. Learning to delay satisfaction and work diligently towards meaningful goals can lead to a greater sense of accomplishment and success in the long run.

Once the pursuit of gratification is in better balance, we can begin to work with them on accepting criticism in a more mature way. While it’s important to create a supportive and inclusive work environment, it is equally important for younger workers to learn how to accept constructive feedback gracefully.

Constructive criticism provides opportunities for growth and self-improvement. Younger workers should understand that receiving feedback is not an attack on their abilities but a chance to become better at what they do.

The logical next step, following an improvement in the acceptance of criticism, is to help younger workers put social media in the right perspective. They need to understand and accept that they will never make a living posting content unless their job is involved in social media marketing. In its place, they will need to put their nose to the grindstone in their chosen field and work diligently to get ahead.

To close, the call for younger workers to be more resilient and hardworking is not an attempt to belittle their experiences or struggles. Instead, it is a reminder that embracing challenges, developing a strong work ethic, and fostering resilience are vital skills that benefit individuals at all stages of their careers.

In the end, we must be about building a stronger, more adaptable workforce that can face the challenges of the future with confidence and determination.

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