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Step 2 to Financial Success: Work Hard!

Finger pointed toward yourself

Teacher's Hint:

Either have students read this opening article for homework (online or print) or have several good readers read it aloud in class. At the end of the article, you'll find some activities, discussions and questions to
reinforce this lesson.

The index finger is pointing at you like a foreman telling you, "get to work!" 


Aren't the Wealthy Just Lucky?
Sure, the occasional slacker makes it big, receiving a huge inheritance, winning a lottery or writing a song that becomes as popular as "Happy Birthday to You." But these are fairly rare.

When Thomas Stanley studied over 700 millionaires, he asked them to rate the keys to their success. Among the thirty traits and habits mentioned, "being well disciplined" ranked #2 and "working harder than most people" ranked #5. (1) None of them had anything good to say about gambling.(2)


They Loved Their Work
Working hard doesn't sound like much fun...unless you love your work! According to Professors Stanley and Danko, 

"The most successful business owners we have interviewed have one characteristic in common: They all enjoy what they do." (3)

As one of the millionaires said,

"I can't wait to get up and get down to the office and get my job under way." (4)

Only a Few Fun Jobs? Or, Different Strokes for Different Folks?
You might think that there are just a few fun jobs that make big money, and your odds of getting one of those are slim. Maybe most millionaires do fun stuff like hosting game shows or modeling swimsuits or playing lead guitar for successful bands. 

But Stanley and Danko found their millionaires scattered among almost 250 different vocations. (5) And the vocations look boringly average: accountants, builders, farmers, donut-machine manufacturers, printers, janitorial contractors. Why are they so excited about their jobs?


We're All Different
When the Gallup organization studied over 1,000,000 people in the workplace, they found that people's strengths and interests differed radically. Some love to work with people. Others hate it. Some like short-term projects. Others prefer short-term. Some love cleaning up hotel rooms. Others love sales.(6)

It's amazing how you can take Miss Slacker out of the job she hates, place her in a job she loves, and watch her become Miss Diligent. 


So How Do I Find My Strengths?
Oseola loved her job of washing clothes. She didn't have to take a "Strengths Assessment" to find what she loved. Bill Gates (richest man in America, President of Microsoft) fell in love with computer programming in middle school. 


Others, like Sam Walton (founder of Wal-Mart) and Warren Buffett, worked lots of different jobs growing up. Once they found their niche, they were hooked! If you've not found what you love, take different kinds of jobs and start asking yourself questions such as, 

  • What do I hate and like about this job?

  • What other jobs might allow me to do more of what I like and less of what I hate?

  • Do I like working around people?

  • Do I like managing people, or working on my own projects?

Even if you go for vocational counseling or take a vocational or strengths analysis (which I highly recommend), you'll find that the results will be better if you've worked several kinds of jobs. Otherwise, you don't know how to answer many of the questions!


Interests Often Change Over Time
I hated writing as a high school student. Had I filled out a career assessment back then, it would have never told me to consider writing. I simply had no interest at the time. But now I write every day...and love it! 


Bottom Line

  • So get out there and go to work! Work hard! Begin building wealth at whatever job you find yourself in. 

  • Keep learning new skills that will become valuable to your future work.

  • Work at discovering your strengths and interests.  Management guru Peter Drucker says that "most Americans do not know what their strengths are." Study the books Now, Discover Your Strengths and What Color is Your Parachute to help you find them. (See recommended reading in the "Activities..." section.)

More About Work

Is the Leisure Life Overrated?  (Short article on the value and fun of work. Includes discussion questions)

(To do: Link to my stuff for Kennesaw Mountain HS Seniors. Also, the success series.)

Activities, Discussions and Questions

  1. Do you know any people who were slackers in school, but became top-notch workers in a job they loved? Tell about them.
  2. List some things that you know about yourself that might help you to find a job you love. Divide into small groups and discuss these likes and dislikes with the others. Help suggest jobs to the others in the group, as they tell their likes and dislikes.
  3. What have you hated and loved about jobs you've worked?
  4. Check with your guidance office to discover what psychological/strengths/interests/vocational/personality inventories are available through your school. You may have already taken one that could be evaluated in class.  
  5. Go to www.monster.com and browse through the types of jobs available. What especially interests you?
  6. Read the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Buckingham and Clifton. It will acquaint you with many of the types of strengths that people possess. With the purchase of a book, you can also take, free of charge, their online strengths inventory. 
  7. Read the book, What Color is Your Parachute, by Richard N. Bolles (updated and revised every year) to learn how to find a job you love. With 8 million copies sold, Today's Librarian chose it as one of their "Seven Essential Popular Business Books." The Library of Congress chose it as "One of 25 Books That Have Shaped Readers' Lives." 

Connection With Book
This lesson and activities correspond with several chapters in section three of the book, Money: How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Enjoy It!



End Notes

  1. The Millionaire Mind, by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. (Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City: 2001), p. 34.
  2. Ibid., p. 11.
  3. The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D. (Pocket Books, New York: 1996), p. 240.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid., pp. 256-258.
  6. See First, Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman (Pocket Books: 2005) and Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton (The Free Press, New York: 2001).