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Why Work? The Mindset that Fresh Graduates Need for Career Resilience

Fresh graduates entering the workforce can learn from Kazuo Inamori (founder of Kyocera and KDDI Corporation) about the mindset, ethics, and attributes needed to do well in the workplace.

Fresh graduates are all too familiar with the pressures of looking for a suitable job. From salary to future job prospects, there is a lot to consider when planning a career. However, the start of one’s career is also the best time to consider the question often neglected by workers: “Why do I work?”

Kazuo Inamori, the founder of Fortune Global 500 companies Kyocera and KDDI Corporation, explores this idea in his book The Philosophy of Work. In authoring this book, Inamori wanted to educate readers on the type of attitude and approach that will help you excel at work, by sharing his wealth of knowledge as a successful businessman who began from humble beginnings.

Understanding the ‘why’ of work

Many people fail to consider the purpose of employment — why do we need to work, and what do we gain from it? Aside from making ends meet, we frequently forget the other functions of employment – mental fortification, social inclusion, a feeling of purpose, personal fulfilment, self-satisfaction, character-building, learning and development, recognition, social status, etc.

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Work is more than a paycheque at the end of each month. It makes us who we are.

As a young entrant to the workforce, it is vital to understand your motivations towards work. Think about what else is important to you other than money. Is it the sense of responsibility and contribution to society? Is it the opportunity to learn and grow? By understanding your ‘why’, you can better appreciate the value of any job, no matter how challenging or unglamorous it may seem.

Challenging times

When Inamori graduated in 1955, he was faced with an economic recession. He had no other job option except for a position in a manufacturing company that was on the verge of bankruptcy. Despite the situation, Inamori decided to adopt an open-minded attitude instead of amplifying his negative emotions.

Similar to Inamori, recent graduates face equally challenging times. With the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic raging against a backdrop of disruptions, how can a new joiner of the workforce build up resilience and emerge stronger?

Inamori believed that one’s mindset determined success. The challenging environment combined with persistence and hard work gave him the tenacity to persevere through difficult times.

To reap exceptional rewards, are you prepared to do the exceptional during these challenging times? Perseverance and resilience during challenging times are critical to enabling one to emerge stronger. It is also important to always see a silver lining and believe that the light is at the end of a dark tunnel.

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Love your job

There are two ways to embrace the true meaning of work:

  1. Work on something you like
  2. Love what you are working on

Only the minority are lucky enough to pursue the first way – not everyone can enter their desired profession and be guaranteed a job of their preference. Dissatisfaction in your job will stop you from unleashing your full potential. Instead, Inamori suggested discovering ways to fall in love with your current job instead of searching adamantly for the “dream job” that may not even exist.

Inamori displayed an adaptive mentality by first forcing himself to like his job. He put in time, effort, and resources to educate himself. His sense of job satisfaction progressively overcame his negative sentiments, and his passion and love for his job began to grow gradually.

If you put your whole heart and soul into your job and do it effectively, no matter what it is, you will get a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and the desire to take on the next task. Repeating this technique strengthens your attachment to your work. Then, your job will no longer be a burden, and you will be able to attain great achievements.

Hard work and persistence are critical

Kyocera faced many challenges as a fledgling corporation, including a lack of funds, technology, and facilities. Nevertheless, it managed to become a public-listed company within 10 years. Inamori attributed the accomplishment to hard work and dedication.

Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” In the same tune, Inamori suggested that “Success is 1% talent and 99% effort”. Behind a successful career is a myriad of repetitive work. You place yourself in a position to succeed when you are willing to put in significantly more time and effort than others – there are no shortcuts.

Mindset and passion are key

Inamori developed a formula for how to lead a successful life:

Work & Life Outcomes = Mindset × Passion × Capability

  • Mindset refers to your attitude in the workplace. Positive attitudes include willingness to learn, kind intentions, constructive character, meticulousness, generosity, self-discipline, etc. Negative attitudes include jealousy, laying blame on others, laziness, etc.
  • Passion refers to your level of interest in your work, measured by the amount of effort you put in.
  • Capability refers to your level of intelligence and physical health.

We don’t need to know everything to be successful. Nothing can stop us from striving for perfection if we take a reasonable approach to goal setting, have a clear vision of the goals, and put in hard work, innovation, and the tenacity to constantly improve. Our success will depend on our mindset and how passionate we are about achieving our goals.

This article is co-created by NexPage, a translated book summary app, and Workipedia by MyCareersFuture.

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