I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Many of my clients complain about the work habits of their employees and how they’re light-years away from a competent and conscientious worker.

It has to do with their past work histories. And I think I’ve solved that problem.

To be a good employee who is valued and moves up accordingly in the organization — one has to have worked at a number of similar vocations to build valuable abilities. I’ve honed the list down to four areas:

Farmhand

You need to work on a farm or construction site. You must experience hard work for eight hours, outside in nature’s elements, and get really dirty during the process. It teaches you the value of hard work while strengthening your muscles and pushing the limits of what you can really do.

Most workers pucker-out before they hit 50% — on a farm or construction site, you will push yourself with work that will make you hit 100% of effort every day.

Retail

Customer service is key — being able to smile and help people who are being snotty, demanding, or obnoxious is a talent only trained in retail. It’s a lot easier than a farmhand, but you have to gird yourself to handle multiple customers at once, keep the store clean and well-stocked, and hit your numbers every day.

Working under florescent lights is tiresome after 8-10 hours, but retail work will teach you everything you need to know about customer service, working under pressure, bad bosses, horrendous customers, and boring environments.

Sports

Teamwork is not something you’re born with, you have to learn it on-the-job. Participation in a sport, especially a team sport, teaches you to rely on your friends and step-up/push yourself when things get tough.

It’s this can-do environment you absorb — the ability to push past the pain and not be afraid of losing.

Camp Counselor

Being comfortable speaking in front of groups and convincing people do do things is key in business. One of the best ways to excel is to be a camp counselor or tour guide to teach you the basics and to repeatedly get you communicating to a group of people.

With speaking, you learn by doing and you get better with practice. In addition, you have to use your persuasion skills to guide people to your way of thinking.

This list isn’t perfect — I’d love to hear from you if you have any additions, modifications, or comments on this list.