Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lesson 17: Make yourself useful.

Author's note: I am a compulsive advice-giver-always have been.  When my own son was in high school, he wasn't interested in his old man's advice so I wrote it down in the hope that he might change his mind one day.  What follows is one piece of that advice.  I trust it applies to all of us, regardless of age.

The be-all and end-all of life should not be to get rich, but to enrich the world.
—B.C. Forbes

Having a good heart does not make you a good person.
That may sound callous, but think about it. What makes for a good person? Don’t you think that a good person is one who makes the world better for his having lived there? The fact that you care about something means absolutely nothing to anyone other than you—until that care takes the form of action.
Let’s carry the concept a step further. A caring heart unaccompanied by action is a recipe for unhappiness. Why? Simple. If you truly care, then you know you should be doing something, but because you’re not, you feel like a failure—or worse, a fake.
Let’s take a simple example. My Kiwanis Club spends a few Saturday mornings each year picking up litter along a local highway. One such day, as I prepared to leave for litter duty, I asked a friend if he wanted to come along. He said in all seriousness, “No, thanks. I think that’s just for show, so other people will think you care. For me, it’s enough to know I care—it doesn’t matter if anybody else knows.”
Hmmm. That’s not an uncommon view for a kid, but it doesn’t wash for an adult—even a young adult like you.
The truth is I didn’t really care much about that road litter; I never really noticed it. And I doubt that anyone recognized my hunched figure as I picked up beer cans and McDonald’s bags. But I was out there cleaning up while my friend was at home on the couch, “caring.” Even though I didn’t care very much, my actions made the world just a bit cleaner. Who felt better about himself afterward?
This big ol’ world couldn’t care less about your personal happiness—or about the fact that you “care.” The world wants to know: what are you doing for me?
The first thing you should do when you get a job is get busy and try to make things a little easier on everyone around you. By doing so you’ll quickly become a valuable employee, you’ll put yourself in position for raises and promotions, and you’ll feel good about the fact that you’re making a contribution. Keep applying this simple concept, and you’ll never be without a job for long.

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