5 Lessons on Work Ethic from Famous People

two people having a conversation about work ethic

When you’re facing the daily grind of a tough job, there’s only so much that motivational quotes can do for your work ethic. But maybe hearing from some successful people on their real struggles could show you the light at the end of the tunnel. Here are five lessons from famous people on work ethic.

Lesson 1: Not everyone is going to believe in you.

This is lesson comes from J.K. Rowling, who started writing the Harry Potter series when she was a single mother on welfare and is now one of the wealthiest women in the world. She sent the first novel in the Harry Potter series to publishing houses across the UK, only to be rejected by over a dozen editors. And in 2012, when Rowling sent manuscripts for another series to publishers under a pseudonym, she was advised to take a writing class.

Lesson 2: It’s probably going to hurt.

Wilma Rudolph wasn’t born an athlete. As a kid, she suffered from double pneumonia, scarlet fever, polio and whooping cough. But she was determined to walk — and then run — without leg braces. In the 1960 Rome Olympics, she won three gold medals and broke three world records. As a coach, she was quoted as saying, “The triumph can’t be had without the struggle.”

Lesson 3: You can’t cut corners.

Bestselling author Jodi Picoult is famous for taking on challenging topics in her books, from cancer in My Sister’s Keeper to racism in Small Great Things. In each of her novels, she writes from the perspectives of characters with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. To make her characters and plots believable, she has to conduct extensive legal and scientific research, not to mention hours of personal interviews. If you’re going to produce high-quality work, you have to put the time in.

Lesson 4: Don’t make excuses.

The road to musical success wasn’t smooth for Andrea Bocelli. He suffered from congenital glaucoma as a child and had to learn to play classical music using Braille. Furthermore, it wasn’t until he was 34 years old that he decided to leave his job as a lawyer and go on tour with an opera singer. Since then, his albums have sold over 70 million copies. Regardless of your age or physical capacity, there’s no excuse not to give your best.

Lesson 5: Balance is key.

Angela Benton is the chief executive of NewME, a startup that supports women and minority entrepreneurs. She describes her early work as being “in the trenches for a long period of time,” but even she admits that “you just cannot keep up that level of intensity.” For long-term success, you have to remember to stay balanced to avoid burnout.

Good Work Ethic Realizes Big Dreams

Do you have big dreams? Do you just have dreams of having a career that you somewhat enjoy? These people didn’t arrive at success in a limo dressed in a gown paid for by their enormous wealth. They fought hard to be successful. And they all have one thing in common–they never gave up. Even when it seemed like their efforts were totally useless, they kept trying and kept improving.