After my freshman year of college, I went back to Milwaukee for the summer. I worked for a corporate landscape company and spent the summer hedging shrubs and trees. I regularly worked 10 hours a day…and this was the summer in the mid-90’s that was so hot that over 300 people died of heat-related incidents just down the road in Chicago.
The crew chief, one of the year-round employees, looked me over at the end of a day when I was particularly sweat-soaked and grimy. “Hey Fisher, hard work, huh? Pretty good motivation to go back and study your ass off.”
And I did, but now I’m amused at the thought that getting a degree and working inside is somehow easy. I remember taking naps under my desk when I ran my Cutco office. Not because I was lazy, but because I got there at 7:00 am and wouldn’t leave until after 10:00 pm.
I guess I wasn’t as sweaty, though. So that’s something.
Maybe it’s me getting older, but I think we need to appreciate the value and power of work a little more.
My Facebook newsfeed is being transformed into a string of advertisements, and most are touting some passive-income stream gimmick or coaching program that guarantees a 6-figure business in just months. But they are pretty much all schemes to wheedle people out of their money. We still think that we can get something for nothing.
But that’s not true, and we know it. So be OK with work. Be OK with labor. Focus on making sure that your work is valuable and needed, but don’t hesitate to put it in.
Get Up and Get Going
And be thankful and appreciative of the labor of others. We’ve created a hyper-connected society where the division of labor means that we can specialize in just one thing. You probably didn’t make the clothes you are wearing, so be grateful that someone else went to work that day and did.
It’s funny that we honor workers by taking a day off of work, but tomorrow when you have to get up, these words from Marcus Aurelius, the 2nd-century Roman emperor, might help:
At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”
— But it’s nicer in here …
So you were born to feel ‘nice’? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?
— But we have to sleep sometime …
Agreed. But nature set a limit on that — as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. You’ve had more than enough of that. But not of working. There you’re still below your quota.