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Moving up the Work Ladder: Earned or Entitled?

December 11, 2009

The old adage is true, hard work will win you rewards. It doesn’t matter if you work in fast food, a factory or an executive office; at the end of the day it is hard work that will propel you forward and open doors of opportunity. There is something to be said for earning a reward through hard work, it has more meaning and a deep sense of satisfaction that can’t be achieved by merely being handed it.

So often there is a sense of entitlement that comes from people in all aspects of our lives. Our kids think they are entitled to everything that the “other” kids have. Often people around us at work or in our personal lives feel entitled to opportunities even though they may not have taken the steps or made the accomplishments to have earned them. The pride that comes with earning your own success is priceless. As you work through your careers, I challenge you to be the earner.

BE the EARNER. An Earner:

• Volunteers to take on additional responsibilities; seizing opportunities presented to them
• Is willing to stay late and go the extra mile
• Is always driven to achieve and enjoys it
• Continually seeks feedback from others, in continuous improvement mode
• Thinks ahead and plans for many scenarios
• Is dependable and gets the job done
• Looks at every situation with positive energy and a positive attitude
• Is thought of as a professional
• Is the go to guru and if they don’t know the answer, they take the time to help figure it out
• Is always learning formally, informally and from those around them
• Is active and engaged with their co-workers, managers and their community
• Is an attentive and active listener
• Exudes confidence and an optimism
• Realizes that every single thing is better accomplished with a team
• Surrounds themselves with positive, driven and engaged people

The earner mentality will serve you well if you live it. You will be easily recognized as a natural leader and someone who will impact the organizational culture, bottom line and success. Earners easily climb corporate, social and educational ladders. Those who feel entitled will often say phrases like, “I’ve been here longer and deserve it” or use the term “favorite” to describe the earners around them. Regardless of longevity if you are just meeting the status quo or “doing your job”, you are not positioning yourself to move forward. You must go beyond the call of duty and change those habits, attitudes and barriers that are holding you back. A person with an entitled sense of self can become an earner with some simple changes but it all starts with motivation. You can’t just see yourself as a successful person, you have to work for it.

Amy Chastek, Director of Career Services, Herzing University Online

For more information about Herzing University Online please visit us on the web at Are you an employer looking for a great employee? Click here to view our interactive map of job seekers.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2009 5:17 pm

    This would be true if this was 40 years ago but in todays time their is a lot of people who work hard at scheming or use sex, race, personality or good looks to get ahead leaving some people who actually fill those qualifications you mentioned above, out in the cold. Not sour grapes as I am content in my circumstances and confident in my future but from past experiences sometimes the weekends or night hours worked, the extra mile, the little certificates your boss hands you for a good job on a project doesn’t matter in the end. Everyone’s expandable and I’m finding those who make the least amount of noise (positive or negative) and seems content in their position seem more favorable to certain company’s bottom line. Corporate America seems content in turning the populace from professionals to wage slaves. After the bailouts it became painfully clear that many companies are fine by getting by and going on the federal government dole. With such an example being made by corporate America the incentive for hard work, outside of personal satisfaction, is becoming less clear. Sorry to be a downer but it is the truth. I’m all for hard work, it is a virtue after all. I encourage people to work hard for themselves. Turn past passions, talents and hobbies into money making ventures and don’t expect the corporate world to give you nothing for your hard work other than the salary you agreed upon. If a company have not laid out an incentive plan or given you indication of growth in your position, or with the company structure don’t expect to be rewarded for the extra effort. If they do offer training always accept it but never under the assumption that its job security. Take it to learn and to apply elsewhere if needs be.

  2. Rob permalink
    December 16, 2009 2:55 pm

    Hi Matt,

    It looks like you are not arguing against Amy’s point but saying that we shouldn’t expect to be rewarded for our extra achievements. You say that the certificates and little rewards don’t matter in the end. What exactly is the end? These are documentations of the recognition of your achievements. They can go strait into your portfolio. If “the end” is losing your job, then you have some tools that you can use to get hired with your next position. It’s true that there is scheming and bias going on in the work place, but how would you combat against this? Scheme and make biased decisions yourself? or the other option of showing that you are a valuable employee that can make decisions that will make the company money?

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