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Work Ethic, Civility and Personal Responsibility are the Keys to being a Better Person

A strong work ethic is the cornerstone of an ethical society. If we do not care about doing a job and doing it well, then we fall into the trap of caring more about ourselves and instant gratification rather than to be a contributing member of society. In the past I have blogged about these issues and find it appropriate to do so again now as we close out 2013 and welcome 2014.

As we begin the New Year all of us should commit to being better people. As a college professor getting ready to start a new term, I think about the messages I want to send at the first class meeting of my ethics class. I will ask each student to search his/her soul; evaluate their behavior this past year; and commit to improving how they interact with others on an ethical level. Unfortunately, they are all-to-often swimming upstream as the values that made the U.S. a great nation seem to be slipping away. I encourage my student to buck the trend by changing their behavior for the better on the following levels:

Social Interaction

Put down the smart phone, tablet, and laptop and speak directly and personally to friends and family. The personal interaction creates a connection that is difficult to come by when you “let your fingers do the talking.”

Work Ethic

Work harder in school and in whatever endeavor you choose in life. The ancient Greeks knew the pursuit of excellence through virtuous practice is its own reward. I tell them that the most rewarding experiences in my professional life have been when I set a goal, worked hard to achieve, and succeeded in doing so. It made me feel like I have accomplished something in my life.


Don’t make fun of others for any reason. The diversity of our culture whether in race relations, national heritage, or sexual preference is what makes us strong and the most admired country in the world. Don’t be rude; practice patience; and always be kind to others.

Personal Responsibility

Don’t blame others for your failings. If something bad happens to you, search inside your own mind for an answer and commit to doing better next time. If you make a mistake in life, admit it, promise never to do it again, be remorseful towards those you have harmed, and then become a better person.


We are not entitled to have the government pay our way. We are not entitled to receive benefits that don’t come from hard work and dedication. We should not complain when circumstances change for the worse and insist we are entitled to better. Search inside your own soul for an answer.

Work hard; practice kindness and be empathetic; accept personal responsibility; and strive to be the best person you can be. Just imagine if each of us took these words to heart how much better of a society we would have.

A happy and healthy New Year to all!

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on December 26, 2013