Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all. – Sam Ewing
What does that mean?
I laughed when I first saw this one. It is so true! I can name a dozen or so people for each of the different categories. And hundreds that fill the spaces between them. And I imagine you can name a person, right off the top of you head, for each of them as well, right?
But the willingness to do work, hard work especially, is considered a good trait in most cultures with which I am familiar. And nearly everyone likes having a good, hard worker around (except their lazy peers, that is). Those are the ones who turn up their sleeves, another way to say ‘roll up their sleeves,’ an action to protect the shirt from the labor about to ensue.
Those who turn up their noses, well they aren’t much help. They’re too good to do what needs to be done. Whatever it might be, they just aren’t going to do it. Perhaps it’s beneath them, or it’s too gross, or they might get dirty. We all have our limits, but these people set theirs a bit high.
The last group are those who are suddenly too busy to help with that project, or will be conveniently out of town, or hosting a distant relative. Really, they’d love to be there, but they just cant. Then there are those who don’t eve bother to make an excuse, they just don’t show.
Why is your character, and willingness to work, important?
Where do you fall on this spectrum? Are you the one everyone trusts to get it done, or at least pitch in? Or do they simply expect you to turn up your nose or bail on them when it comes time to get things done? What is your reputation, or your character, in the eyes of others?
Do they know you won’t help someone move, but will help with planning the next meeting or will balance the books? Do they trust you when you say that you’ll be there, or do they expect you to promise, then make an excuse? It all goes back to character, right? What is yours, and what is your reputation (that is, how well is it known to others)?
Where can I apply this in my life?
Just this week, in the parking garage of the hotel where we were staying, I crawled under my wife’s car and spent a half hour rigging up a temporary fix for some loose plastic under the car (part of the air-dam), which had been damaged earlier in the trip by some road debris.
We were staying at a really nice place, and one of the bellmen noticed, as I approached, that I had some dirt on the sleeve of my shirt and asked if he could brush it off for me. I laughed and turned around so he could see how dirty the rest of me got while I was up under the car. He looked kind of shocked, but what can I say, I’m a car guy! I love it!
Now, that said, there are some things I just wouldn’t do. If you’ve ever seen a show starring a guy named Mike Rowe called Dirty Jobs, then you know there are limits to what most people will do. Again, we all draw the limits, just in different places. The question is where is it, and are you willing to publicly stand by it?
The question is where do you draw yours? Some people won’t (or can’t) do heavy lifting. Others seem allergic to sweat, but give them something they can do while seated at a table in the air conditioning, and they’ll be busy all day. It doesn’t sound like much, until you need someone to write the newsletter, balance the books, or do research, right?
Do you avoid work that involves really gross things, or really smelly things? Does cleaning fish count as either of those, or is it part of the fun of a weekend fishing trip? What if you weren’t there for the fishing, but were asked to help out anyway. Would you? Or would you turn up your nose?
I do not believe that there are any truly right or wrong answers, I would just expect you to be willing to stand by your decisions. It is all about character, and letting people know what you are willing to do, what you can be counted on to do.
Whatever you are willing to do or not do, I just ask that you stand by your decisions, and let people know what they can count on you to do or not do.
If you have a bad back or a bum knee, you still may be able to help a friend move. Just stay away from the heavy lifting. But you might be able to help pack, right? If you are asked to help prepare the weekend’s catch, you might pitch it, if there’s some fish in it for you, right?
What are you willing to do? Be a stand-up kind of person and let people know so they know what to expect. Hard work is a great way to build character, and to get a reputation. Shirking it will also give you a reputation. Chose wisely.
From: Twitter, @AnitaDFiouris
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Photo by Phillie Casablanca