I work hard everyday. It is part of my genetic make-up to be motivated to work hard – to value hard work and what it can deliver. Another part of my make-up is to see where, when, and how I can make my job or my work easier. This could be called strategy and it is part of my appetite for finding “the better way”.
The Better Way
I started working and earning money when I was just 12 years old. I actually had two jobs. I took in ironing. I would iron dress shirts and polo shirts (because somebody jammed them into a laundry basket straight from the dryer, instead of shaking and hanging – my better way now). I charged $.25 an item. I raised my prices to $.50 for dress shirts after the first 3-4 batches, as they took longer and required starch. It was decent money for a kid. My second job was making doll clothes for a lady who hand-painted and “fired” her own porcelain dolls. I think I charged $12 for a dress and then added on prices for other items like petticoats or hats. I was 12. It was money.
I realized right away that this was not the kind of work I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted more – I wanted bigger. But those skills stayed with me and served me well when I used them and improved upon them in subsequent jobs. And I liked those other jobs, they just weren’t enough for me either. Work is such a huge part of our lives; it is imperative that you enjoy what you do, that you are passionate about the thing that fills your days or your nights, dependent upon your line of work and shift.
Not ready to retire
I have a friend who cannot wait to retire. He is 50 years old and has always viewed his job – his work – as a means to pay his bills. He has found nothing fulfilling or pride-worthy in what he does. He usually hates walking out the door to go to do his job. A job he has been doing for 23 years. He is counting down the days until he can pull the plug on his “career” and do something else. Retire or fish or move to the Midwest or sit in his garage and drink a beer. This just doesn’t sound like life to me.
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Maybe I’m crazy
Maybe I am, but I love to work. I love the purpose it gives to me, the options it presents, the challenge which pushes me on when I am learning something new or the pride I feel when I do something well which benefits my company or my industry. I cannot imagine just waiting for retirement, counting down the days.
Of course, there are days when I wish my job were easier. Or wish I could swap careers with a barista or a favorite local bartender – I’d have lots of stories and I’d hear many more. Thomas Edison said that there is no substitute for hard work. He also failed many times. Failure is just another chance to succeed. Edison understood the concept of valuable work.
When I was kid with many brothers and a baby sister, my mom drove us around in a 1967 VW Bus. We loved that car – we all fit in it and we could usually each bring a friend, too. This was, of course, pre-car seat days and pre-seatbelt law days. If we were going someplace for the first time, invariable, mom would get lost. She’d always figure it out and we’d be back on the road and make it to our destination with little time lost. My mom would laugh her wonderful laugh, shake her head and say, “Anyone could drive straight there – it takes a genius to figure out a new way.” She’d use this same logic for misspelled words, too. “It takes a genius to figure out a new way to spell it.”
But what her magical logic taught me was that making a mistake was not the end of the world and that there will never be a time in your life when you have to believe, “You can’t get there from here…” You can get anywhere from anywhere. You just need to start.