Lessons Learned from my Elders

You Can Do Anything If You Work Hard Enough.

My father grew up in a family who believed that accomplishment was tied to working hard and he carried this value into raising me.  Although education was stressed in our family, the primary driver for accomplishment was effort.  Not only would he say it, he lived it.  Every day, Dad would go to work early and come home late, and I remember sitting around the kitchen table at night talking about the successes and work of the day.  I believe it was his work ethic that enabled him to progress so far in his career, marriage, and personal endeavors.  I am forever grateful that Hard Work is a part of my DNA now thanks to my father.

While hard work always seemed to produce good, it sometimes didn't resulted in reaching the goal.  What a wonderful responose from a parent to a child not to frown on a result but to encourage one another to just try harder. He probably would subscribe to the Thomas Edison quote:  "Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits."

Anything is a strong word.  As a child, I believed anything meant anything.  There were no barriers to what one could do.  As a adult, instead of taking the attitude that this saying isn't true, I simply choose to view "anything" as a figurative term.  Hard work seems to be a key to successful living and we can do more with hard with than not, in my opinion.  Perhaps the challenge if one holds HARD WORK as a primary value is to realize that the fulfillment from it is self-created, which has it's pro's and con's.  And working smart and hard together produce a better result than just "hard" alone.


Be Disciplined - "Do What You Say You're Going to Do".

To contrast, my mother grew up in a loving but less educated and financially challenged household.  She was taught to conserve everything and don't waste anything.  I'm not sure if it was her background or a rebelling against her background that caused her to be such a structured individual.  Out of this structure grew discipline, a value which shows up in so many areas of life.  Eating chocolate may be the one exception for my mother. 

Mom would get more done in a day than anyone I know.  She worked in addition to family responsibilities and even with numerous duties, I knew I could count on her word.  "Do what you say you're going to do" gets accomplished a whole lot easier when one holds discipline as a key tenant for living. 

Living up to your own disciplined schedule and commitments says something about one's character.  It also can create a lot of stress to prioritize.  When discipline forms rigid habits, sometimes it can compromise joy.  Where the rubber meets the road for me on discipline is that at it's core, discipline is most effective in life with a healthy dose of self-reflection so those behaviors we deem most important are those around which we exercise discipline.  At face value, discipline is our friend yet without other values, it can creep in as an enemy. 

I have not found many cases where "do what you say you're going to do" doesn't work....

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Graduate Studies at Champaign-Urbana, Illinois 196...


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