Working For A Living

When I was a young kid, I worked as a helper in The Old Man’s shop.
I was only a kid at the time. My intentions were elsewhere and my mind was on other things. I had no idea what it meant to work for a living or have a family depend on me.
I was too young to understand and too young to know what it means to endure or why people do it.
What is endurance anyway?

Endurance is that thing inside us that keeps us in the race. Endurance is that things that thing inside us that keeps us moving.
Endurance is the ability or strength to continue.
But there is a secret to this. Each of us have our own secret or endurance same as each of us have our own separate motivations.

I was a teenage when the Old man brought me to work for a summer. I remember watching grown men work with heavy tools and machinery. They worked in steamy rooms and repaired pumps and boilers in residential buildings.
No matter how hard the job was, these men kept working until the job was done. Meanwhile, I just wanted to go home. I wanted to quit. In fact, i tried to quit but I wasn’t allowed to.
I was tired and hot. I was sweating and carrying pipe and handing off tools. I was learning what real life was like but at the time, I didn’t care about real life. I cared about hanging out. I cared about the crowd and my place in the social circle.

I remember a conversation with some of the men that worked for The Old Man. They explained this is what they do for a living.
They explained this is how they worked and fed their family. This was how they could afford their homes or their apartments and cars. This was how they clothed their family and how they paid for insurance and doctor visits.

Quitting was not an option for them. Whether they enjoyed the job or not and regardless to their physical pain or how tired they might have been (and I know they were tired because they told me so) the job still had to be finished. Otherwise, no one is paid; and if no one is paid, no one eats.
It was put that simple to me, yet still, I didn’t have what these men have. I didn’t have their physical ability or their know-how. I also didn’t have their drive to attain, but then again, I didn’t have the same motivation either

Most people live in a world of constant adversity. I believe this is true. I also believe that people that fail themselves only do so because they failed to learn or to understand the secret of their own endurance.

I have seen people speak in crowds and take over the stage with their stories of inspiration. Maybe they came from nothing and built their own empire. Maybe they came from money and lost everything, only to regain their wealth at a much greater level. I have seen people that went from homeless to helpful and watched them changed the life of people in the crowd.

But how?
What makes any of us different?

As a grown man, I remember escorting a building contractor down to one of the sump pits that takes the drainage water from the basement of a garage. Each year, the pit needs to be cleaned. Of all jobs I’ve seen, this one is perhaps amongst the dirtiest of all.
The contractor drained the pit to the lowest level and lowered a man inside. The man was wearing a Tyvek suit. He was small in size, goggles covering his eyes, gloves on his hands, but still, and I’m not sure how many people outside the New York City area will understand this; however, the roaches and water bugs in the pit are very large and very plentiful. they were crawling all over this man.

The man that went in the pit did not complain or say anything.
Instead, he went in and did his job.

His boss was with him. I shook my head and said, “That’s a dirty job.”
“Yes it is,” remarked the employer.
“But someone’s family is going to eat because of this job.”

I stopped for a minute and thought about this.
I thought about the word success and how relative this term truly is.

Of course, I am sure the man that went down into the pit would rather an easier, softer way. I am sure if he had the means, he would do something else. Then again, this man made sure his rent was paid and there was food on his family’s table. This is a success.

Thinking back to the time when I was The Old Man’s helper, I remember how The Old Man was hard on me. He yelled and he yelled plenty.
I was the helper, which meant I was there to clean up and hand off the tools. I was there to do the dirty work and be sure the mechanic had everything ready. This also meant that since I was the youngest and smallest, I had to fit in tiny dirty places where no one else could fit.

One day, The Old Man sent me inside the chamber of a boiler to clean it out. This is the kind of job that creates a filth that does not wash off. I was covered in soot. I washed my face and my hands at least a dozen times and the soot would not come off.
We worked late that day. It was summertime and most of my friends were out having fun. They were at the pool, chasing girls, getting in trouble and creating memories. And me, I was swinging wrenches and learning what grown men do to feed their family.
I hated it . . .

The Old Man was driving home and mentioned something about stopping for something to eat.
“I just want to go home,” I said.
I didn’t want to stop anywhere. I was dirty. I was sweaty. My long hair was matted. I had black soot beneath and outlining my fingernails. I swear the soot was even in the grains of my fingerprints. I didn’t want to go to eat. I wanted to go home and shower. I was embarrassed to be this dirty.

The Old Man wasn’t listening to me though.
He drove into a burger place not far from the house. I’m sure I whined and complained about this. I was a teenage kid in my town and God forbid, someone I knew saw me that way, filthy, sitting with my Father and looking like a couple of soot-filled grease monkeys.

The Old Man put his foot down and insisted we go. He was angry but I never understood why. See, to The Old Man, this meal was a symbol of pride. But I was just a kid and I was too young to understand why.

I resigned to do as I was told, which, I am sure I looked unhappy.
The Old Man must have understood more than I thought because as he took a bite out of his burger,
The Old Man told me, “Never be embarrassed for being dirty like this. It means you worked for a living. And you should never be embarrassed when you work for a living.”

I think I understood why the Old Man wanted to have that meal with me. He was proud. He wanted to sit with his son, like two men that earned their share in the world.
I just wished I embraced this more back then. And I can still see him now too, The Old Man, and I can remember his face and the grease from the burger on his lips. I can remember sitting across from him, like two men that worked for a living.

The problem with quitting is the mentality behind it. No one wants to feel pain. No one wants to work so hard or break their back.
Most people quit on themselves, which is why they fail to endure.
Most give up on themselves, which is why they fail to reach their goals.
Most people see obstacles. They see problems. They anticipate the worst; therefore, they never perform up to their ability because they have mentally quit before they’ve even began.

There is nothing so different between you or me. There is nothing so different between me and the CEO of a huge company or me and the man that went down into the sump to clean out the drainage pit in the basement of a garage.

The only difference is in the mind . . . which means the difference between me and anyone is a phantom. It does not exist. It is useless gas and wasted energy. If I am to endure then I am to endure because I believed in me and my abilities.
Believing elsewhere will only lead towards failure.

We all have our own potential and our own talent. We have our own abilities, which can be nurtured and improved. But for us to be at our best, we all need to learn the secret of how to endure.
We have to learn how to stand when our legs feel too weak. We have to learn how to endure loss and pain and still maintain us enough that we can go to bed and wake up the next day.

We need to understand the secret of our endurance.
What is our motivation?

Warren Buffet said, “Price is what we pay. Value is what we get.”
We need to understand what this means because first and foremost, we need to understand our value so that whatever we do, we know we are getting what we’re worth.

Success is relative. However, the ingredients are the same:
Part dream, part drive, part endurance and part resilience; part desire, part vision, part dedication, part undeniability, part blood, part guts and pain.

Nothing worthwhile comes free because if it did, we would have no idea how worthy it is.

“If you want something . . . you’re gonna have to work for it!”
Ronald M Kimmel (May 28, 1929—December 29, 1989)

I know this is true.
I learned it when I was a summer helper at The Old Man’s shop.

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