Cockroach. That’s what my professional mascot would be if I had one.
Being the first-in and last-out at work these days isn’t nearly as cool as it used to be. Whether you work in an office, at home, or at your local pet shop, there’s a Cal Ripken, Jr., in your organization.
Is it you?
My grandparents referred to this characteristic as work ethic. For my parents, it was a non-negotiable. “If you don’t work, you don’t eat,” was the edict that ruled our home when I was growing up.
I’ve had a job-job since I was a kid. From household and gardening chores to putting food on the table, I was expected to be a contributor from the git-go.
Bussing tables, washing dishes, mowing lawns, cleaning windows … it was normal and expected that if you were able, you worked.
This isn’t the case today. Not where I live.
I know poor kids by name that have $600 smart phones and $150 sneakers. Some of these kids have spent more time at professional sporting events and concerts than cleaning their room.
I would say most kids think Manual Labor is the relief pitcher the Yankees just traded for … but then again, most kids don’t watch baseball so what the hell do I know.
Honestly, my parents, teachers, coaches and professors will tell you I was thick. Nothing — and I mean nothing — came easy for me. I wasn’t trying to be difficult. My brain simply processed information differently and not nearly as efficiently as those around me.
But it didn’t matter. I kept at it. I studied longer. I read and re-read. I got up earlier and stayed up later just to scrape by with a C. But boy, I’m glad I did. Without even knowing it, I was learning to outwork, out hustle, and outlast the competition. And this quality has stayed with me my entire career.
So here’s my challenge for those who still want to do something great:
- How much time are you committing to practice your craft? Because all the greats out-practice their opponents. All of them.
- How much time are you putting into doing really great work? It’s awfully tough to produce something amazing between 9–12 a.m., and 1–5 p.m.
- How much thought and preparation are you putting into your meetings and calls? What are you doing to get better when you’re off the clock?
If you’re tripping over the fact that you’re not where you want to be at this stage in your career, or like many, believe you’re not earning what you’re worth, I hate to break it to, but here’s the gospel truth:
We design and build our own realities. And unless you’re the guy born on Third Base who thought he hit a triple, if you want a great life, you are going to have to earn it.
Step One: Be the first one in and last one out. Work you ass off in-between.
Step Two: Accept the fact your financial future is completely up to you.
Step Three: Don’t expect to get paid until you create serious value for others.
Outhustle. Outserve. Outperform. First in, last out.