This I Believe

Joseph - St. Marys, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 20, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: work
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Hard work. Just two words. An adjective describing a noun. Yet, those two words at times scare me. I am only 21 years old and think college is too much work at times. It may appear that I have my whole life ahead of me for work, and that I may know nothing about hard work in the real world. But ever since I was a little kid, hard work has been the underlying foundation of my environment.

I always jumped at the chance when I was little to help my dad out in the garden or in the workshop. Pretty soon work took a backseat to the neighborhood pickup game and eventually girls. But the work still got done, just not by me. It was done by my dad. He never complained and never asked for anything in return. In all the years I have been around my dad, he quietly goes about his business but refuses to be outworked.

The one day my dad and I were splitting wood when I asked him about grandpa, who had died when I was very young. We talked for hours about him and I could see in my father’s eyes how much he missed him. “You know what he taught me, Joe?” my dad asked, “Don’t expect or think you are owed anything in this life, if you want something than you better work your tail off for it.”

Maybe no other example emphasizes this more than in my short life than when I turned sixteen. Cars were about the only thing on my mind, except for maybe women. While my friends were getting cars for their birthdays, I received the keys to the old family minivan. So, I got a job. Three years and many blisters later I finally saved up enough to buy what I wanted, this time leaving my friends jealous.

I guess it’s kind of funny what my dad and grandpa ended up teaching me. If you never expect anything from anybody, then in fact you will never be disappointed. Not heeding this advice over the years, I realized just how right they were and how wrong I am. My dad makes sure I know this every chance I get. Hard work is the root of all success.

Sure, I have gotten things I really haven’t worked for. But the satisfaction wasn’t there. In the end, it didn’t feel like I earned it. I just got lucky. It wasn’t something I could be proud of or tell everyone about. Hard work. Only two words that used to scare me—and sometimes still do. But these two words will allow me to achieve whatever my imagination desires and be proud of it, this I believe.