Posts Tagged ‘work ethic

29
Oct
12

Berks Technical Institute Commencement Speech

Good evening graduating class of Berks Technical Institute. Thank you to President Reichard for allowing me to share this evening’s remarks. I want to welcome the family, friends and other supporters who are here to celebrate the remarkable achievement of these graduates.  Growing up, my father always taught me the importance of a continuing education and embracing a lifetime of learning. You see, he grew up in the Depression and only made it through the 8th grade. He used to tell me that whenever he graduated from anything it wasn’t magna cum laude, it was laude how cum.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” You are now about to put to use the innate talents you were born with and the learned skills you have acquired as you embark on the literal journey of a lifetime; the quest to find out why you were born.

And as you enter the workforce I have these words of encouragement for you. Yes, encouragement. Don’t fixate on the doom and gloom about the economy. Yes, this nation has a tough economic road ahead of it, but for workers who are not just able, but willing to give a job their all, the future will always be bright. The greatest employers hire for attitude and train for aptitude because you can’t teach someone responsibility, accountability, and integrity. By this stage in life, you either have it or you don’t.

The beauty of this graduating class is that you obviously have the aptitude, as evidenced by the technical classes you completed, as well as the certifications you earned. You are able. Now as you enter the work force of life, the key will be whether you are willing. Never, ever forget that your “I can” is infinitely more important than your IQ.

Back in 2006 I was approached about a project management position running a very large and diverse operations service contract on a classified facility in the Midwest. The problem was I did not possess the particular two years of contracting experience outlined in the job description.  But if there is one thing I had learned in working in four major,  yet very different, industries, it’s that the keys to success fit all doors regardless of the industry, so I applied.

I was brought into an interim position as a subcontracts manager and told to begin working on that two year requirement. I dug in with a vengeance. As I suspected, the acronyms were different, but the requirement for outstanding customer service, efficient use of resources, and ability to interact with a top-notch team was the same as when I served in the Air Force as well as the semiconductor field.

Six weeks into the job, the top government contracting officer called me in their office and said I was approved to fill the position as the project manager. When I asked about the two year requirement they said that due to my demonstrated energy and enthusiasm to get the job done, they felt comfortable waiving it. It was then I learned firsthand the power of enthusiasm and a “can do” attitude in the workplace.

The second lesson I want to share with you is that the people who do what needs to be done without being told draw the most wages. You determine your worth in the work place. In each of the jobs for which I was selected, no one inside the organization was willing to step up. Sure, some were able, but they were not willing. If you are willing to do the things that the majority of people do not want to do, I can guarantee your continued professional success. In fact, the common denominator of success is that a success does the things that failures don’t like to do. That’s it. It’s that simple. You don’t have to be a visionary, or a genius. You just have to be committed to getting the job done because so few people are. Elbert Hubbard said, “Do your work with all your heart and you will succeed—there’s so little competition.”

My father used to call these types of people thumb-suckers and he told me to steer clear of them. In fact he told me, “Hang around great people and you’ll be a greater person; hang around givers and you’ll be a better giver; hang around a bunch of thumb-sucking, complaining, griping, boneheads and you’ll be a better thumb-sucking, complaining, griping bonehead!”

When you enter the workforce you will function as a thermometer or a thermostat. A thermometer is stationary and only reflects what is happening around it. A thermostat, on the other hand, measures what the temperature is and then responds by changing the temperature to the conditions it desires. Some people are like a thermometer. If their environment is negative, they are negative. If bad things happen, they are sad. If good things happen, they are happy. Successful people, on the other hand, are more like a thermostat. Even if their environment is negative, they choose to be positive. In fact, these people are the ones that end up setting the atmosphere for the entire organization.

And lastly, I want to encourage you to make mistakes. A young accountant and recent graduate of Berks Technical Institute asked his seasoned CEO how he got so successful. The CEO replied, “Good judgment”. The young accountant then asked the CEO how he got good judgment, to which the CEO replied, “Experience”. The young accountant pressed on asking the CEO how he got experience, to which the CEO replied, “Poor Judgment”.

We are all born with an empty psychological key ring. Every experience, good, bad or ugly, gives us a key with which to open future doors. The more exposure to experience, the more keys we get to unlock life’s vast array of doors.

There is no greater teacher than adversity. And if you are stepping up to the plate while others are content to sit in the dugout, there is a chance you will strike out. But at least you made it to the plate and took a swing. My father told me that the secret to success is to cram 50 years of failure into 15. He was right. We learn from our mistakes, so don’t be afraid to make them.

And I wouldn’t be a publisher worth my salt if I didn’t bring you some tremendous reading material as a graduation gift. These two little pamphlets are the most powerful booklets I have ever read. If you can commit to the actions in these two books, I can guarantee you will live life at the 99th percentile.  The first, is Message to Garcia, the fourth most read writing in the history of mankind. It will take you ten minutes to read. The second, The New Common Denominator of Success, contains the principle we covered earlier that in order to be a success, you simply have to do the things that failures don’t like to do.

You’re going to be reading and studying material to teach you the know how for years to come. But don’t ever forget to read things that teach you the know why. Knowing how to do something let’s you drive it; Knowing why you are doing something lets it drive you. The greatest communicators, whether they are in the home, church, or work place, know how to speak not just to your ears, but to your heart as well.

In closing, I hope and pray for wisdom and strength for this graduating class to meet and surpass the challenges that will come its way. Always remember, life happens just outside your comfort zone so if things are scary and seem, at times, chaotic, you’re doing it right. Thank you for listening to my comments and for allowing me to share in this amazing milestone in your lives.

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?

22
Aug
12

Certain Inalienable Rights

Our country was founded on the declaration that all men have certain inalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I would like to amend these to include: work, personal initiative, and the pursuit of going the extra mile.

If we’re not working, we cannot experience life. Work is something we do regardless of whether or not we get paid. In fact, our most vital acts are performed free of charge: raising children, bestowing love and forgiveness, volunteerism, and charity. This is what makes the world go ‘round. Working is as necessary to the individual as breathing. When the individual stops working, he stops thinking, and then stops living. My father was born in 1927 and remembers growing up during the Great Depression. His father, like many other Americans, did not have a job, but that did not stop him from working. We are on this planet to work, to give back and share that which is within us.

Personal initiative is the truest manifestation of liberty. The greatest read on personal initiative is found in Elbert Hubbard’s Life-Changing Classic, A Message to Garcia. Those of you who have read it are nodding your heads in agreement. Those of you who haven’t can purchase it for a little over a dollar, it will take you ten minutes to read, and it’s one of the top-selling books of all time. You have the right to not ask your employer how to do everything and to display some personal initiative by figuring it out on your own. You have the right as an employer to encourage your team to read this so that they can understand the infinite power of personal initiative in determining their value and even their salary. It’s the original “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” philosophy. Don’t ask your boss how to do everything, and don’t tell your employees how to do everything. One of my favorite lines is the man who does things without having to be told draws the most wages. Amen.

The pursuit of happiness requires going the extra mile. Happiness never comes from just doing the minimum. That’s called “getting by” and someday we will all have to answer to life, explaining what we did with what we were given. The status quo has got to go! No child was ever successfully raised by parents who did only the minimum. No marriage ever thrived where two people simply coexisted. No victory was ever achieved without someone, someplace, sometime, stepping out of the mediocre masses and going the extra mile. Some people are like blisters; they show up after the work is done. And there is no joy in being remembered as the bare-minimum guy. We go the extra mile because that is where the human spirit truly excels and finds its only source of happiness.

So claim these inalienable rights for yourself and achieve your true birthright now!

10
Aug
12

I lived life and all I got was this lousy T Shirt! Or, Failure Is an Option

If no one is responsible for the consequences of their mistakes or can claim victory for their successes, what’s the point of living? We may as well be drones, our lives flown pilotless as we live off the labors of others.

We no longer have high expectations. We give medals for participation. Eighty percent of the work is still done by twenty percent of the workforce. There are industries that penalize workers who complete tasks too efficiently. More people go on disability than payroll. We are told that debt will strangle us into servitude yet students are allowed to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars of academic debt, and our country keeps printing money it can’t afford to spend.

Whether you agree with it or not, the man who does what needs to be done without being told draws the most wages, unless he’s on the government dole where his pay is guaranteed. Now, however, we are having a national discussion about whether or not the man who draws the most wages needs to give those wages back to those who haven’t earned them.

We are failing to continuously inspire the work ethic that instills greatness in others. Initiative has become a dirty word. Life should be lived tremendously as one triumphant pageant after another, not as a spectator sport. Yet everything now being taught seems to focus on patting oneself on the back for just existing while waiting for your next check to come.

As the Good Book says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  You can’t be a leader if you don’t have vision. The very price of leadership is vision, which is simply seeing what needs to be done and doing it, without having to be told and without the expectation of reward or accolade. Just doing what needs to be done, period.

Over two hundred years ago, Alexander Fraser Tytler is said to have described the cycle of democracy which typically spanned 200 years: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

“Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back again to bondage.”

So where are we? When the dependents outnumber the independents, dictatorship is not far behind.

 

06
Dec
11

the dark side

 My dog, Mr. Blue, and I recently delivered annual training to the tremendous faculty at Douglas Education Center in Monessen, Pennsylvania. At the end of the program, someone asked a question about how to deal with negative people. I asked if she meant in their personal or professional life and she said, “Take your choice.” They entire audience laughed. Point well taken, negativity is found in all areas, broadcast on the news 24/7, and for some people becomes their sole means of communication.

All Human Resources manuals have a list of actions that are grounds for termination. I personally would put negativity at the top of the list, although it’s often an activity that is allowed to continue unchecked. I have never been able to understand this. When I was in the military, negativity was labeled as insubordination. In personal relationships, negativity marks the beginning of the end. In work, negativity can manifest itself in gossip, backstabbing, active disengagement, and even sabotage.

The Chief Motivational Hound, Mr. Blue, refers to this as “biting the hand that feeds you”. It is one of mankind’s worst traits. It’s a cancer that spreads and takes over the organism and can only be “cured” by cutting it out in its entirety. Negativity is a form of fraud. If you are negative at work, you are not earning your pay, hence you are stealing. If you are negative in a relationship, you are stealing the other person’s emotions and time. If you are negative in your outlook on life, you are squandering the greatest gift of all.

So my answer to the question was simple—cut it out of your life. Life is too short to not be thankful even for the mistakes we make and the bad things that happen to us and to those we love. If you cannot keep your mouth and emotions in check, you will spread your toxic attitude to everyone with whom you come in contact. My advice is to quarantine yourself until you are thinking positively and stay far away from those who might infect you with their virus.

Make your 2012 resolution now to surround yourself with only positive influences. That may mean changing coworkers or even jobs, separating from existing friends or relationships, or emancipating yourself from family drama. As Mr. Blue quotes, “When you feel dog-tired at night, it may be because you’ve growled all day long.”  So stay away from the dark side and move into the light!

Mr. Blue shares some hound wisdom.




Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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