3 Essentials for a Great Life (Hope, Hard Work, Habits)

It is Thanksgiving morning.  I think that most of us in the United States can acknowledge that we have a great life.  The reality of our situation compared to the rest of the planet has been the result of three essential elements that form the backbone of our nation’s prosperity.  In order for the next generation to prosper further, I think we need to reinforce these elements at this critical juncture in history.  Are we going to slide into the doldrums of socialism, or are we going to reawaken the hallmarks of our Free Market, Capitalist society?:

Hope

Hope says that no matter what trials and tribulations we face things can, and will, get better.  It is born out of a faith in an all-powerful creator that loves us like the perfect father and is “working all things together for our good.”  It is much easier to have hope if one believes in a benevolent deity than if all you are counting on is the selfish nature of man!

Hard Work

Work Ethic has always played a crucial role in the success of our society.  Combined with our innovation, it has propelled the United States to lead the world in productivity.  One driving factor is that entrepreneurial small companies still employ more than half of the workforce in the US.  The little guy can, and still does, get ahead.  This potential has been fueled even more by the advent of the internet and the ability to be productive from almost anywhere at any time.

Yet we have an epidemic of malaise that seems to have hit our workforce, and a political machine that wants to create a society dependent upon governmental intervention and entitlements.  Gone is the stigma associated with accepting welfare and unemployment. Instead we have a liberal elite who want to be seen as Robin Hood, stealing from the “evil” rich and distributing to the “less fortunate.”  In reality they are stealing from hard-working people who have been wise with what has been entrusted to them, often to support people who neither work hard, nor make wise choices with their lives.

There certainly are people with needs to be addressed, but government has proven to be the least efficient vehicle for that aid, and it creates generational dependence.  Rather than giving a leg up, they tread on the hopes and dreams that can lift people out of their current state.

Habits

This is where the rubber hits the road.  Is our society rewarding habits like responsible financial management, saving and giving, or is it rewarding irresponsible childish habits like living off the work of others, spending more than they have, and then expecting others taxes to pay their debt because it is not “fair.”  Are we rewarding the young adults who devise a plan to get the education they need to develop a career track, working their way through college doing internships that show they have learned things that have value in the marketplace, or do we reward the ones who spend 5 years at college on low-income grants playing beer pong and throwing keggers, and then come out and lament that the piece of paper they have been handed is not Willie Wonka’s golden ticket to wealth and riches?

I am so thankful for the freedom and opportunity our country affords.  I pray today that we do not allow hopelessness to rob us of the values that make us great.  I have children, and hopefully one day grandchildren, that need to be free to succeed and achieve an even greater life than the one I have been blessed to lead.

If you have ever had one of THOSE weeks, READ THIS!

If you know me personally, or have read my blog for any length of time, you would probably agree that I am the glass half-full guy; the can-do guy; the annoying guy at the coffee pot at 7:00 Monday morning seeming as though he’s happy to be back at work!  That being said, there is one guy that takes that kind of attitude to a level that even annoys me!

The man is Alistair Humphreys, motivational guru who has a quote that keeps popping up in many different podcasts to which I listen.  “Do what you love and you will never work a day all your life”  (by the way, I think Confucious was first to the party with a very similar quote).  Reading through his blog, he is motivating people to find their passion and get out of dead-end jobs they hate and head for the hills.  I think that is a worthy calling and applaud his endeavors.

Here is my issue.  I am a Healthcare Administrator.  I love my job.  It is my calling and I am passionate about leading and about providing world-class healthcare to people in an affordable manner. IT IS, HOWEVER, WORK!  Some days that work is easier than others, and SOME WEEKS, well some weeks are just HARD WORK!

Have you ever had a week where everything you are working on came to a pinnacle, and all the plans you had crafted seemed to evaporate and devolve into chaos? Have you ever had a week where you felt you were transported from your work place into an episode of the 1960’s TV series, “The Twilight Zone”  and found yourself in some kind of surreal carnival?  One minute you are in a “fun house” that is anything but, looking at yourself in a hall of distorted mirrors thinking, “this is not what I am, this is not where I belong,” with people jumping out from unexpected places yelling and screaming, trying to direct you further into the trap.  The next minute you find yourself stuck in the midway game, “Whack-A-Mole” as one of the moles.  You stick your head out of the hole looking for escape, only to be slammed back down by a kid with a rubber hammer, over and over again!  Finally, you are on the four tentacled ride, the “Scrambler,” in one of the four cars at the end of one of the four appendages being slung as fast as possible in one direction, and then turned 120 degrees and slung in that direction, all the while looking like you are going to crash into the other cars!  You may even like the ride at first, but in this nightmarish week it seems to never stop.  The constant changes in direction, loss of balance, and disorientation makes you sick!  You want off the ride, but it just kept going and going and going!

Finally, it stops.  It is Friday afternoon and you are able to get off the ride.  You go home and tell your wife about the horrible week and she consoles you.  You go out to dinner at a new place and enjoy each other’s company.  On Saturday, you go to lunch with your in-laws, whom you love, and later pick up your son who has been apart from you for a week of vacation with your brother’s family.  Sunday you spend the day on a mountain lake with your best friend and his family.  Life is GOOD!

The moral of this story is that meaningful work, for most of us, is still work!  I think there is much work that would never get done if everyone excluded from their consideration things that are hard some days, or weeks, or even years!  If everyone “ran for the hills” and sought work that never felt like work, there would be a lot of unmet needs in this world!  If you believe in servant leadership, as I do, please encourage each other.  Your work is important!  Do NOT give it up because it is hard at times.  If, however, you cannot go home on Friday and have a life outside the twilight zone, then you may need to run for the hills.  Otherwise, realize that the Monday following a week in the twilight zone is likely to be more normal.  As my mom used to tell me when I would get worked up, “this too shall pass.”