You know, I’ve been thinking and have had this conversation with a lot of different people over the years. More so recently.
Do you really take pride in what you do? Personally, I take pride in everything I do. Why? Because it’s professionalism. A job worth doing is a job worth doing well. What I do, what I build, how I act is a direct reflection on me. It doesn’t matter if the customer or whoever ever even sees my face or knows my name.
Everyone wants to be a doctor, lawyer, millionaire. They want to be engineers, computer technicians. Everyone wants to be the CEO. What about the folks that make that company run? Who’s gonna do that? Is it glamorous, no. Does it need to be done? You bet.
Now lets look at some discussions I’ve had with some fired up young Soldiers and NCOs who wanted to become an Officer. The first thing I asked them was if they hated what they were doing right now or if they genuinely liked it. Based on that answer, I asked them why they wanted to be an Officer. Usual response? More money and Officer’s don’t work as hard. So I made a few of them shadow me for a while to show them what “we” really did. Usual response? Yeah, no thanks, I’ll stick to this. NCOs and young Soldiers ARE the Army and as an Officer, I needed every last one of them. But they saw something shiny and lost sight of how important they were and what they were doing. They lost sight of what they enjoyed about what they did. They were proud of being an NCO, but not so proud to not look elsewhere. The grass is always greener on the other side.
A caveat to that is some of them had put a lot of thought into it and gave me solid answers. Some of them became Officers and some of them stayed NCOs, damn good ones at that. No matter what route they took.
This country was founded on the notion that you can make your own way, with your own hands and better yourself. Education was valued because it makes you a better person who is more capable or making a contribution to society. Trades were valued and craftsmen were respected. Be honest, who do you think is more successful, the guy with the big house who works in a bank or a guy with a big enough house and probably built that huge house? My how times have changed. What’s funny is, that guy outside my office welding? He goes home tired and dirty but he’s smarter and makes way more than you think.
You are basically moving to another country where they speak a different language and have a completely foreign culture when you get out. So yeah, to a degree, you have to step back and start over. You have to learn so much and once you do, if you’re boss doesn’t wear a special helmet, they’ll see it and you’re moving on up the ladder. All those things that you have been dying to show everyone that you were capable of, what the Army taught you, will finally get put to use. Be patient. Be diligent.
Another way to look at it is, you are trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. Except now, you are jam packed with skills and experience and you more than likely have a lot more responsibility (like a family). So there’s more risk involved. Work hard and constantly educate yourself (college, trades, certifications, READING THE NEWS, etc) and make that impact. Don’t forget to look at the long term. Seek improvement at every opportunity and take pride in what you’re doing and where you’re going. Everything you do, every job you have or course you take is a stepping stone to something better.
There truly is a lot of work to be done out there. There are a lot of jobs, good jobs. But for whatever reason, a lot of people look down on those jobs. I see a lot of people that are unhappy at work and they constantly make mistakes and honestly, it seems like they don’t care. They do care; it’s not that they come into work and say “I can’t wait to mess something up again.” It’s simply because they don’t take pride in the work that they are doing. They aren’t realizing that what they do, what they make, is them. The man isn’t keeping them down; they’re keeping themselves down.
As we speak, I’m hand stamping steel plates that are going into a new nuclear facility’s floor. Ok, well not right now, but you get the point. Not very exciting but it’s a part of a huge project that will benefit a lot of people for a long time. When you look at the big picture, it’s pretty cool. I’m a college educated, world traveled, Commissioned Officer in the US Army and I’m swinging a hammer, all day. I should be up front, learning sales, making spreadsheets and taking that next step to run the company right? Maybe I am and don’t know it. But it’s an honest day’s work, it’s kinda fun, it pays the bills and somewhere down the line, it’ll make a difference. So who cares. In the not too distant future, folks are going to have hot water and be able to turn their lights on because I made a lot of noise swinging that hammer.
The point here is that it needs to be done and I’m the man for the job. I’m proud of that.
Everyone has different phases of life they go through, and there's no end to the possibilities, circumstances, and the choices or chances. People who are unhappy often have fallen trap to not listening to their inner voice. It's very true that being mindful and aware of the present will give you the energy and attentiveness to answer your true calling, and also do your best. As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, "Wherever You Go, There You Are."
Clarence Matthews says
That is one of the points I wanted to make Kanani. But what I really wanted to get across is what professionalism means to me and one of the reasons people and possibly the economy, are "unhappy". Simply taking pride in doing a good job at whatever you're doing is something that no one else can give you and it takes maturity and discipline in order to do that. I'm sure a lot of Veterans can relate to having had to do something as awesome as burning the barrels or some other menial task. But for whatever reason, they did it and did the job to the best of the ability and are ultimately proud of their Service. The same goes for the civilian life. Take pride in the hard and good work that you do and you'll do a better job. It's not what you do but how you do it that matters, in my opinion.
With more of "us" coming home and seeking work outside of the uniform, everyone is looking at us. We are direct reflections of each other. It's a very real peer pressure that still exists and some Veterans might not realize that.
Something that I learned a long time ago and keeps me going…Earning the Tab was the easy part. Living up to it for the rest of your life is the hard part. Just because you served, graduated college or accomplished something really "special" in the past, doesn't get you a ticket to the land of milk and honey. You've got the reputation of everyone else on your shoulders as well. Food for thought.