If you really want to make a difference, work on your work ethic. Make your work your purpose.

My daughter and I had the airport shuttle all to ourselves.  The driver’s name was Bo.  My daughter had finally stopped giving me dirty looks for conversing with our drivers. 

We had a shuttle driver on the way to the hotel and three cab drivers while visiting Boise.  She was used to me practicing conversation skills, getting the person talking.  She had also seen the value of these conversations.  We got some really interesting and funny stories from people.  I was also parenting incognito then, mentioning valuable life lessons in these conversations.  She could over hear them.  Later I would say “would I have learned anything talking?”.  I was trying to teach her the art of connecting and listening, by role modeling.  (she’s 17 and wants to leave me further behind than toilet paper on your shoe in public!)

Bo had quite the story.  He had been in a crash with his newly restored corvette.  The glass t-top roof shattered crosswise, fell in severed OFF his right arm.  The first time he said this, my eyes went to his right hand which was adjusting the temp on the dash.  My mind immediately said I didn’t hear him correctly because I was seeing him fully utilize his right arm.  He also lifted our suitcases in the back of the van.  There was no indication of this.  I didn’t follow up on that comment, we talked further about the car.  Of course I had to mention helping crash survivors tell their story of the incident.  He let me know he almost died on the way to the accident, losing so much blood from the severed arm.  Now I had to clarify.

“Did you say your arm was severed OFF, that arm?”

Turns out Bo’s Doctor told him he would probably not be able to hold a spoon.  To not expect much from the reattachment.  Bo told me that he knew what work was.  He grew up on a tobacco farm in Kentucky, he knew work, so he made his arm his “work”.  He was now flexing his fist for me.  His son had a bowflex machine, so he went 3 times a week and worked his arm.  I told him about growing up on a farm and how I learned about hard work.  My Dad’s work ethic rubbed off on me.  I looked at my daughter, she was engaged and listening.  Bo and I talked about how hard work will get you through just about anything in life.

Deb Hilmerson.   Featured in the Minneapolis StarTribune Business section on July 24.  Hilmerson has built a business from the ground up.  She learned hard work from her Dad.  She works 60-70 hours a week and says “It’s how you make a difference in your life.”

It’s Saturday morning almost noon, I’m at work.  I do intense hours – adding in last Sundays time in the office and my time today I’m at 58 hours.  But I don’t see work as work.  I see it as my purpose.  I was put on this planet to do restorative justice.  I live it.  Social Justice is a relevant issue and it takes WORK to make structural changes.

I know you make a difference.

I don’t even have to know who you are.  I know you are here, therefore you make a difference.  Let the difference you make be one of contribution.  Work on your purpose.

I have a friend that works really hard, she sells concession stand stuff.  I know that she makes a difference.  I’ve never seen her at work concessions, but I’ve seen her work other places.  I know she is kind, friendly and helpful.  She works hard and gets the tasks done.  Just demonstrating that for community makes a difference.

I watched my road construction workers.  You can see who is radiating work ethic.  You stand taller, you put effort and focus into what you are doing.  To me – that is making a difference, because you are DOING.  Doing whatever is yours to do.

You can work on yourself, make that your purpose, go to work on your community.  Work on the garden, work on writing a book.  To me, because of work ethic, I know . . . NOTHING feels as good as a good day of work.