Opportunity Knocks

“The dream is free but the hustle is sold separately.” – Steve Harvey

brown soil in orange plastic bucket

When I was 15 I went to spend a summer roofing a church with my grandfather in the brutal summer heat of Oklahoma.  A lifelong self-employed carpenter, I never knew anyone that could out work him.  We would get up everyday at and get to the church as the sun was coming up.  My grandpa, in his 60’s at the time, could still carry 2 bundles of shingles (weighing 60 lbs a piece) up an extension ladder.  The first day roofing, at about 2 in the afternoon he tells me we’re going back to the house.  I remember thinking “oh yes, the heat has finally got him and we can go home and relax”.   We got home and I fell asleep on the couch.  About an hour and half later I awoke to him tapping my shoulder and explaining that it was time to go back and finish the day.  We went back to work finishing as the sun went down. And that was our schedule for weeks.

A few years later, while working my way through college, I was doing landscape construction with a crew in Memphis.  The landscape architect, job supervisor and I were looking at a plan and debating what to do first.  One of my peers there was a man named Floyd.  Floyd wasn’t an educated man, but he worked tirelessly to take care of his family.  He stood to the side watching us talk and finally walked up and said: “By the time you guys finish talking about it, we could’ve been done.”.  He then said something I would hear him say many times that summer: “ain’t nothing to it but the do it”.

A few years ago, I got to meet Bill Rogers, the CEO of SunTrust (now Truist) at a class I was in with about 15 other people.  During the Q&A someone asked him what’s the best piece of advice he ever received.  He explained that he has a note on his desk still to this day with a piece of advice given to him.  It simply says, “Show up, on time, ready to do your part”.

All of this came to mind when I was reading about work ethic on the plane to Boston recently.  The difference between a dilettante and a professional is that a pro understands having an idea is not enough – you must work to bring it to life.  Sure it’s important to take a break, have down time and recharge your batteries.  My grandfather was regularly fishing on the weekends.  Floyd loved to play cards and spend time with his family.  And I would later learn that Bill Rogers plays golf and hunts.  But most of the days, working diligently is the answer to succeeding. 

“No one has ever built a reputation over what they are going to do.” – Henry Ford

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