04
Oct
12

Work ethic or wish ethic?

Two construction workers sat down to eat their lunches one day. One worker opened his lunch box, took out the sandwich, and exclaimed, “Oh no, not peanut-butter sandwiches!!” The next day the same scenario was repeated. This went on for several more days before his co-worker finally said, “Joe, if you don’t like peanut-butter sandwiches, just tell you wife not to pack them anymore!” His friend immediately fired back, “You leave my wife out of this! I pack my own lunch!!”

Which is stronger: your work ethic or your wish ethic? One of the great universal and constant truths is the role of hard work in living your life to its fullest potential. Yet somehow, despite the plethora of stories we hear about how our parents and predecessors worked so hard, many feel that it is somehow beneath them to struggle for success today. They’ll use all kinds of excuses such as the opportunities are not there (where’d they go?), life’s not fair (who said it was?), and cast stones at those who have what they do not in an attempt to tear them down (the blame game).

My grandfather had five children within five years in the heart of the Depression, but no job. That didn’t stop him from working. There are countless studies about the impact of having meaningful work and how it affects your self esteem. If you have a work ethic, you will find work because it’s in your blood. I am constantly looking for people who are able to bring a strong sense of accountability and commitment to our organization. I can and always will have a place for them.

How badly do you really want to succeed? Enough to ignite an internal revival? Or are you content to languish in the mode of survival? Life will always be one continuous, glorious pageant of struggles. That’s the nature of it. It’s like the Samuel Goldwyn quote, “The harder I work, the luckier I get”. Wishing is child’s play. What do we wish upon? A falling star? A birthday candle? It’s a tradition, but it doesn’t actually mean anything.

Never forget, those at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there. Even if you are born with certain privileges, if you don’t work to keep them they won’t always be there.  Money can’t buy a work ethic. It is something you develop internally.  The government can’t subsidize one for you; quite the contrary: any help received that does not help you to develop your work ethic is injurious. As my father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones used to say, “It takes a lot of learning to figure out how to help somebody more by hindering them less. Imagine what will happen if Congress ever figures that out.”

It reminds me of the classic Blues Brothers song, “Rubber Biscuit”:

“Have you ever heard of a wish sandwich? A wish sandwich is the kind of a sandwich where you have two slices of bread and you wish you had some meat…”

So what are you packing in your lunchbox? Are you wishing for something? Or are you working to get some prime cuts into the bread box of your life?


4 Responses to “Work ethic or wish ethic?”


  1. October 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Oh Tracey – once again, you NAILED it.

  2. October 5, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Ha! Loved the PB sandwich anecdote. “The truth is often spoken in jest,” as my mother used to say… : )

    Couldn’t agree more, Tracey. The wish mentality seems to be what’s driving the entitlement mentality these days. Nobody ever got stronger by letting someone else fight their battles for them.

    Great post, as always. And it’s inspired me to raise the bar for lunch today– I’m going with liverwurst!! : )

    • October 5, 2012 at 11:28 am

      I am a lover of liver!! Thanks for the read and the comment Mark. Love the way you put it…”nobody ever got stronger by letting someone else fight their battles for them.” Now, on to lunch because all this talk of deli meats made my hungry!!


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Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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