65% of Americans believe hard work guarantees success
Achieving success begins with asking questions and studying how others became successful. Without this interest and willingness to learn, success is unlikely for most people. The question of how to become successful has become more pertinent than ever against the backdrop of today’s struggling economy.
After speaking with more than 1,000 Americans, our team compiled interesting findings about what it takes to be successful in the U.S. Respondents shared their views on success with us and explained how they reached it. Keep reading to learn more about the value of hard work and winning in the workplace.
- Americans most associate success with the amount of knowledge (38%), skill (35%), and money (33%) they possess.
- Most Americans believe a 40-hour workweek isn’t needed to succeed.
- 52% of Americans think hard work is the key to success, more than any other factor.
- 68% of Americans believe hard work made a more significant impact on their income than a college degree.
- 2 in 5 American technology workers felt their industry was the one that required the least hard work to succeed.
The value of hard work
Part of the American dream is that if you work hard, you’ll succeed. Our study begins with this concept to find the answer to questions such as: What does hard work mean to most Americans? And does hard work really guarantee success in this country?
Most Americans consider themselves hard workers, and likely, they’re correct. The U.S. regularly clocks in more annual working hours than most other countries. It’s also often considered the most overworked developed nation.
Even those who didn’t consider themselves hard workers are perhaps more productive than they give themselves credit for. When we asked about what hard work meant to them, most people associated the phrase with taking on more responsibilities at a current job (62%) or working longer hours (57%). In other words, to be considered a hard worker, there must be additional work on top of regular work responsibilities.
Americans have a sincere motivation behind the hours they work. Most people agreed that this type of hard work would guarantee success. They even had a specific number of work hours in mind: On average, Americans thought you must work 36.2 hours per week to succeed. As this amount of work is less than the typical 40-hour workweek, we can infer that most people think they can be more productive in less time.
Minorities were especially likely to believe in the benefits of hard work. The drastically increased propensity for Native American/Alaskan Native and Black/African American respondents to associate hard work with success might stem from socioeconomic issues like the generational wealth gap. Previously marginalized communities are less likely to be born into success, and therefore, they must lean on other tactics than family wealth.
What does it take to make it?
America’s youngest generation, Gen Z, was less likely than older workers to correlate hard work with success. Though hard work may be a vital key to success, it’s not the only one. Below are many factors Americans believed could also contribute to a good life.
Gen Z was particularly privy to the idea that hard work didn’t guarantee success. The youngest generation may be onto something, as new ideas about achieving wealth are circulating. For example, the barbell strategy for success emphasizes that the best way to build significant wealth is to work smarter, not harder.
In our study, hard work exceeded all other factors as a component of success, but it was not the only attribute people believed important. Motivation and ambition were other top qualities Americans thought a person needed to succeed. Education was a divisive factor in success as only 38% of people said it’s a vital component for achievement.
Successful Americans (those currently earning at least a six-figure salary) were 26% less likely than less successful workers to attribute their status to education. The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, has been very outspoken on this subject, insisting that college is more for fun than learning. A college degree isn’t even necessary when applying to work for any of his highly successful companies.
Winning in the workplace
Despite modern, alternate routes to success, working your way up the corporate ladder is still a common choice for many Americans. This last piece of our study looks at how career-specific advances happen today.
The importance of education has appeared to dwindle in the eyes of today’s workforce. Most respondents agreed that their hard work paid off more than their college degree.
More specifically, they said the rewards of their hard work include fair financial compensation (62%), career advancement (53%), and workplace perks and benefits (53%). While how education impacts success may be changing, it’s worth noting that college degree holders still earn 75% more on average than those with only a high school diploma.
If hard work isn’t in your makeup, but you still crave success, respondents shared that careers in the arts, entertainment, agriculture, or cryptocurrency require the least work. Cryptocurrency careers have only recently come on the scene, meaning that decades of hard work would scarcely have been possible. That said, they are springing up rapidly and offering steep financial gains. Gen Z also had a particular affinity for crypto careers, which may explain their propensity to dissociate hard work with success.
Striving for success
Although ideas for achieving success are changing, hard work and success still go hand in hand today. Many Americans think working beyond normal hours and taking on additional responsibilities is necessary. Yet, some are discovering an alternative approach that’s less conventional and often doesn’t require a college degree.
Your route to success may very well involve both the road less traveled and hard work, or to put a name to it: entrepreneurship. Starting your own business instead of working for a big corporation may be a better career path as you leverage your knowledge, motivation, and ambition to achieve your goals. If you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, don’t delay; start chasing those dreams today.
Inc and Go surveyed 1,042 Americans about hard work and success. Among respondents, 56% were men, and 44% were women. Generationally, 21% were baby boomers, 25% were Gen Xers, 27% were millennials, and 27% were Gen Zers. The margin of error for this study is ±3% with a 95% confidence interval. These findings rely on self-reported data, and potential issues with self-reported data include but are not limited to selective memory, hindsight bias, and telescoping.
About Inc and Go
Inc and Go assists aspiring business owners in achieving their business goals by providing expert-level resources and guides built to tackle the different challenges faced when starting a business. From your business formation to selecting the best services for you, Inc and Go helps you access the information and expertise you need to make your business dreams a reality.
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