The day after my 16th birthday, I was in a polyester white uniform and hairnet standing in the nursing home’s vast kitchen.
My mother was the administrator of the large facility that has a reputation of being called “The Ritz” because of its high standards and quality of care. She had worked her way up through the ranks, beginning as a floor charge nurse then supervisor, onto the director of nursing. Going back to college for her master’s degree she became the administrator of the nursing home and remained in that position for over 30 years.
Watching my single working mother work, seldom with a day off, forged my work ethic. She often covered the nursing staff 24/7, getting called in the middle of the night as the “admistrator on call,” with her focus and priority on ensuring the safety of her patients and staff.
My mother ingrained, in both my sister and I, that we were not allowed to “call in sick” to work unless we were “unable to walk" or were "contagious.”
The thought of calling “sick” out of work for pleasure-related events or “just because” we “didn’t feel like working” wasn’t permitted. On those occasions, when scheduled for work and we needed to change or switch a shift, requesting that to my superior wasn’t permitted.
I was to give the issue to my supervisor along with a solution! With a resolution which would sometimes go like this “ I contacted so and so and they are willing to change shifts, so I’ll be working X and they’ll cover Y is that acceptable to you?”
This work ethic of solving the issue prior to presenting it to your supervisor’s also had a footnote. If she/he calls requesting help, like covering a shift, switching a shift or perhaps work a double, we were to always to say yes!
Plain and simple this was our work norm, which created our work ethic. You worked and you were dedicated to the whole. Period.
This ingrained the work ethic that still lives on within my household: Solve your own work issue before bringing them to your supervisors! If your supervisor requests help always be solution orientated: Take the shift, cover the time, and work longer and harder.
Now decades later, seeing myself in my son’s resistance, as feelings of unfairness or overwhelm. Receiving calls from him during his work break because he is working short handed, or goes in to cover and finds out the co- worker is at the beach, is reminiscing of what I experienced.
Then my mom words pour out of my mouth and I realize that I have become her.
I encouragingly tell my son that it pays off personally and professionally, trust me. “Hard work never killed anyone!” (Was that my mom?)
I remind him that he has received wonderful recommendations, has consistent employment and received one of the highest pay increases.
The parental guidance from my mother, which was uncomfortable and sometimes difficult to live, has proven in the end, how holding yourself personally responsible for your employment and a vital member of the team becomes your personal work ethic, values and the fabric of your integrity.
Kristen Darcy is an author; speaker and emotional recovery coach who help her clients get to their clear intentions and how to manifest the life that is best for them. Visit www.kristendarcy.com