Why Teachers Work As Hard As Millionaires

It isn't news to reveal that teachers are one of the hardest working professions, with research suggesting teachers average [53 working hours a week].

It may be a surprise however, to learn that successful millionaires also work an average of [45-55 hours a week].

I was keen to find out why millionaires with all the money they need still work so hard, and even more curiously, why teachers who have disparately different financial rewards work just as hard as these people.

This led me to perform extensive research - which included executing my own interviews and surveys personally with teachers, summarizing my findings below around why teachers work as hard as millionaires, and what you can learn from them.


They Know Money Isn't Truly A Motivator

If you really think that earning more is going to get you out of bed in the morning and energized, [120 years of research] suggests you are wrong - there is in fact a very weak correlation between income and job satisfaction, and I don't think many people chasing money realize it until it's too late.

Money is simply a by-product of your passion, that you use to achieve other passions.

Teachers I interviewed all claimed that while money is important, it was far from their primary driver. If you follow the link to my [survey results], you'll find some incredibly passionate responses about what was really important.

... I once saw a saying which stuck with me “teachers are in it for the outcome, not the income”. This sums up my experience of teaching so far... We deal with human lives everyday and we need to be strong and positive role models to hopefully shape them to become the best men and women they can be... (a response to my survey)

Likewise with many [successful millionaires], money is the by-product of their passion and success. If this was their sole focus, what would motivate them once they achieved their millions?

While money and children both come in steady streams, only the children seemed to provide long term motivation to the teachers. I found this in my study where I could not discern a noticeable difference in working hours and stated passion, whether the teacher had been working for 5 years or 30 years (in fact most of the 30+ year teachers still worked 50-60 hours a week!).

My Learning: Make sure you continually revisit what your real goals and purpose are - and make sure they aren't just the by-products of your true passion. Don't expect that pay rise to get you up any earlier than you do now!

If you really think that earning more is going to get you out of bed in the morning and energized, 120 years of research suggests you are wrong


They Know Learning Is Key - Even When They're Winning

Learning is all about sustainable success [research suggests] - for yourself, your efficiency and your income.

Teachers work to continually educate their kids and learn themselves - no matter the [time it takes], as they understand how important this is.

Similarly, truly successful millionaires are known for their focus on education. The average person reads one book a year, but the average millionaire [reads one book a month].

My Learning: Don't think because you are winning that you don't need to keep learning - in fact, when you are winning you should increase your investment in yourself to make sure next year doesn't make you go from hero to zero. Focus on continued, sustained learning, and your fulfillment and success will be similarly sustainable.


They Have Inspirations

Many of the teachers I interviewed claimed that the reason they started teaching - or at least continue everyday - was because of an inspirational teacher they had in school, and their desire to be that teacher to their children.

... I stay and put in the hard yards because we all remember that one teacher that inspired us. Who put hours into us. Who lifted us up... And I want to be that teacher for my students... (a response to my survey)

This inspiration and role model drives them to work harder over prolonged periods of time because they know what they are aiming for.

This correlates to the corporate world, with [research] from McKinsey which suggested that the leading forces behind non financial motivations were praise from an immediate manager, and attention from leaders - which suggests that guidance and intimacy with those above us does motivate.

My Learning: Many of us spend too much time thinking about ourselves. Think back to someone who inspires you, and do everything you can to emulate them. If you don't know of anyone, start looking around for mentors in your space who can provide valuable foresight and motivation.


They Plan For The Grind

All this sounds great and rosy, but this is a cautionary tale to anyone going into any field based on the perception of the good times alone.

The reality is that most of the teachers claimed they enjoy their job, but it still comes with a significant amount of grind. Some days it is just 'another day another dollar', but it all comes back to the outcome. They get through this grind by reminding themselves of their impact on the kids and their goals.

... Some days it is another day another dollar but some days, the days when you see the penny drop , when a face lights up because of your words... Then, then it’s all worth those extra hours... (a response to my survey)

Furthermore, they know they can't magically keep making their kids happy overnight. They put significant hours into preparation of an optimal learning environment and learning process before their kids even enter the door.

Similarly, millionaires know that despite how the media would portray it, success rarely happens overnight. It may appear to be, but a large percentage of the road was paved with painstaking preparation and developing a platform for success. Just ask the [richest man in Africa], Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who had a net worth of $25b in January 2014 - but it took him 35 years to get there.

My Learning: Don't enter any job or venture on face value, or by being ready just for the good times. No matter what you do, you need to be prepared to do the grind work and preparation necessary to build sustainable success in your field. This goes for teaching as much as it does for those who think becoming a millionaire will be quick and fulfilling.

Success rarely happens overnight - Just ask the richest man in Africa - It took him 35 years to get there

They See Outcomes

The final key reason the teachers kept working so hard over time, was the fact that they could see tangible outcomes from their efforts. There might be painstaking preparation, lots of teaching, and even more marking, but when the 'oooh' comes out of the kids mouths when they understand something, when they graduate a class and take a more prepared step into their future - teachers know they have had an impact.

This drives them even further the next year.

... I can honestly tell you there’s nothing better when you hear a collective ‘ohhhh’ in the class when the students understand something, as they realise how it’s relevant to their schoolwork and their life... (a response to my survey)

It is this type of outcome based thinking that [drives millionaires] to work hard even despite achieving monetary success. For them it is all about posterity, doing what they love, and striving to make their efforts ever noticeable on the rest of the world. Take Bill Gates, [who says] “Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organisation and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.”  

My Learning: Work hard and constantly to identify the ways you do or can make an impact on yourself, your job or others. Once you can measure and recognize this contribution, you are bound to find increased sustainable drive.


In the end, I was fascinated to learn the parallels between the traits and drive that teachers have, against that of millionaires. In fact, it simply goes to show how successful teachers are in almost every key aspect of goal setting, discipline and sustainable success.

By taking these strategies on board in your own life, I believe you are bound to develop ways to become more energized and motivated during the 'daily grind' - whether a business professional, teacher or millionaire.


Do you know a passionate teacher? Share this with them, and get them to tell us why they work so hard.

Not a teacher, but still work hard for things other than money? Let us know what motivates you!


Leigh Fletcher is a millennial sales executive, blogger and entrepreneur, with a passion for sales improvement strategies.

Leigh writes practical articles with a focus on leveraging personal experience to help others learn new skills in selling or simply refine existing skills. You can learn more at Leigh-Fletcher.comand like below to keep up with his strategies.