Work ethic

I have enjoyed building communities with the Team, and learned lots about people in the process. Recently I was  listening to a CD by Chris Brady in which he was discussing the importance of working hard as a beginning step to achievement. Why is it that in our culture today, we want to get great results without putting in the effort? If we are honest with ourselves, we know that everything worthwhile demands that a price be paid. All of our easy new diets, lotteries, and get-rich-quick schemes attract many with the illusion that success is “easy”. Success is well-protected because many are simply unwilling to do the work. In Malcolm Gladwell‘s book, Outliers, he gives many examples of people who have achieved mastery in a specific area due to devoting 10,000 hours to it. For all of you who are not afraid to work hard, this is great news! The question is: Do you have something that you want bad enough to devote the time to master it?

I grew up in a home in which my parents placed a high value on developing  a strong work ethic. When I was old enough to lift a splitting maul and throw firewood on a truck, I was expected to do my share of the work.  We also raised some animals; and now looking back, I think the purpose was more to teach us responsibility and work ethic than actually any benefit that the animals gave us. When I was 12 and the summer break from school had begun, my dad got me a ride to a friend’s produce farm about 5 hours away. I woke up early with the family before light and picked sweet corn, and then other vegetables throughout the day. We worked a 10-12 hour day–every day–with the exception of Sunday, when we relaxed and recovered. I earned the money to buy my first car and some other things, as I worked on that farm every summer until I was 16. Looking back I remember dreading some of the long days and the heat of the summer, and wishing I could be having fun swimming and playing around like my friends from school were. However it was my choice; and if I wanted to have my own car when I got old enough, as well as some spending money, this was the price I had to pay. I realize now how many great lessons I learned, and how comparatively easy so many other ventures have been for me because of those summer experiences. I also learned the value of money, and have been frugal (Teresa, my wife, says “cheap”) ever since. I am so grateful that my parents, as well as the wonderful couple that I lived and worked with, taught me to work and take pride in the quality of the job I did.

What a tremendous advantage we give our children and our teams, when we expect them to learn to work hard for their success. When my children were small, I gave them a summer assignment that they had to work together to accomplish. We have a 3/4-acre, spring-fed pond behind our house that we enjoy swimming in. I had a small beach that led into the pond, and it was in need of some more sand. I ordered 12 tons of sand and had it dumped in front of the house. The kids’ assignment was to fill their little red wagon and pull/push it around the house, and dump it on the beach. Because they were all pretty small, none of them could do it by himself/herself; and therefore they had to work as a team. The stipulation was to take 10 loads a day before they could play or swim. If they did 20 in a day, they earned ice cream as an incentive. When the whole pile was finished, we went and bought a four-wheeler as the ultimate reward. As I recall, it did take them all summer; but when they finished their new beach, they wanted to show everyone because of their great sense of accomplishment.

So, whether you learned the work ethic at a young age, or you are having to learn it later in life; realize that it is a simple, vital part of every success story. John Maxwell says, “there is no success without sacrifice”. Orrin Woodward says, “success leaves clues”.  Keep studying successful people; and you will discover, woven through their journey, a love affair with the effort it requires to win big. As you set big goals and envision the life that you desire, understand that there will be a price tag attached…but the price is worth it.

Dream big! God bless! Dean

A Time to Reflect

It is December, and the time has come to reflect on a year nearly completed. It is also time to plan and prepare for the beginning of a new year. Having been associated for some time with great leaders and visionaries, such as Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, I have learned the importance of living life on purpose. One of the first steps in doing this is by taking an honest assessment of your performance and results over the course of the previous year. Look at all of the important areas of your life–and ask yourself questions–to determine if you are having the success you desire. I’m sure that if you are like me, you will have areas that you feel pretty good about; and then other areas that you would rather not evaluate. The good news is that you can improve if you are willing to “face brutal reality”, as Jim Collins commented in his book Good to Great. Upon discovering which areas need improvement, you can then use the PDCA (Plan.Do.Check.Adjust) process. I learned to PDCA from the Team system; and it has helped me tremendously in my personal life, as well as in my business goals.

As December brings this year to a close, it also encourages us to set our sights on a new year…with all of it’s potential for growth and success. Which areas will you work on this next year? In which areas will you no longer accept your current results? Will you set a goal that takes your breath away? Or is it “okay” to just get through another year? As Orrin says, “A goal is planned conflict against the status quo.” Therefore, there will be challenges! But I promise that there will be challenges anyway; so let’s go ahead and dream bigger than ever before.

God bless you on your journey, Dean