Sunday, July 8, 2012

Reminisce: Breakin' A Sweat

I'll begin this series with, what I feel is, the most important thing my parents have ever instilled in my. A good work ethic.

First off, let me give you a little family background. My dad's side of the family is mostly Welsh and English. My mother's side is 100% German. I, myself, am about half German.

The German people are a people renowned for their strong work ethic, and practicality. It's essentially built into their heritage. They haven't always gotten everything right, but German products are often solid, built-to-last products, and the people are no strangers to putting in a hard days work.

Both of my grandfathers were hard workers. One was more a white collar, factory administrator. The other was a plumber by trade. Both put in long days, and the importance of the feeling of a job well done.

So, it was in this context that both of my parents were brought up. They did the same, raising my sisters and I.

By fourteen years old (the earliest legal age to work) my parents sent me out to find a job. My freshman year of high school I did school, marching band, football, and worked part time at Culver's frozen custard.

I didn't think anything of it, because I figured everyone did it.

Not so much.

But, beginning work early was an important step that I needed to take toward adulthood. As I began to use my checks to pay for things I wanted, I began to understand just what it took, work-wise, to earn something. So, if I'd blow my paycheck on things like fast-food, or video games, then wanted to go out on the weekend to a movie with friends, I'd be stuck.

I also began to realize just how much I didn't like working in food service. My dad had always told me, growing up, that if I wanted to get ahead, I needed to work hard to achieve it. It was never an option to accept handouts.

The things that you don't work hard for, you won't appreciate.

My parents always told me that it wasn't my friends, family, or the government's responsibility to provide for me. It's mine alone (as an adult of course, as a dependent there are obvious exceptions to the rule). But this stuck with me.

Along with my heritage, I also believe in the quintessential "American Dream." Which is simply this: "Living in this country, I'm blessed to have an opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness."

America doesn't promise life, liberty and happiness. It only promises the pursuit of these things.

I truly think that's why my generation has missed the boat so badly. We've been told all our lives that we have a "right" to this, or a "right" to that, and in this process entitlement creeps in.

But that isn't what America is. The only thing I have a right to, is going out and earning an honest day's wage. I have the right to take care of myself and not to rely on a government or program to take care of me. I have a right to be a responsible citizen, not someone who believe that I'm entitled to everything I want.

All these things are possible, if someone doesn't mind breaking a sweat. If they don't mind going after their dreams with their whole being. That's what my parents have taught me from an early age, and I believe it to my core.

This summer I undertook three jobs, for the first time in my life. I've been working about 60-70 hours a week consistently. Why is this?

Simple. I have a dream to own a home. A place that I can call my own.

Sometimes it's tough though...I mean, working 15 hours a day, most every day of the week can get tiring, and there have been times that I've wanted to quit so badly. But quitting isn't in my nature. What I want is a large undertaking, and it's going to take sweat and resolve. Quitting isn't an option. Neither is doing a half-assed job. I can't go home at night, knowingly leaving unfinished business at work. It drives me nuts.

It makes me very sad to see friends, some of which who barely work full time, complaining about how tired they are, or how hard it is to do their job. I was always taught to, first and foremost, be grateful for the job that I have. Secondly, there are a lot of people, pulling much longer hours than a mere six hour shift, some of them are working just to survive day to day, isn't it kind of rude to complain about missing a 15 minute break?

I don't mean this to be condescending, I'm only saying this because this is the mentality I was raised with. Do I always love my jobs? Hell no. Sometimes I straight up hate going to work! I'd rather hang out in the backyard and have a cookout any day. But I'm blessed beyond reason to have these jobs, and an opportunity to make my way in the world.

I'm so thankful that my parents taught me that I'm not owed anything. That I have to fight to earn my keep, and that I have to conduct myself with integrity in doing so. I don't always live up to their expectations, but it is something I continually strive for. Mostly for myself, but also for a future wife, and family.

Having a strong work ethic will never disappoint you, in fact, I find that it has only enriched my life. 

It's made me appreciate the things I have more, and it's brought more clearly into focus the things that matter most. Integrity, gratitude, and the drive to provide for myself.

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