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Can Hard Work Get You Success?

I grew up on a farm in Ohio about 10 miles south of Kent State University. I watched my father work hard every day of his life. I am thankful for the honest work ethic I learned from him. I watched my older brother start running his own gas station at the age of 18. (I would have said SOHIO, but since BP took over I didn’t think anyone would even know who SOHIO was anymore). I watched another older brother run his own insurance agency. As I looked up to them for examples I saw very hard working men. They were working towards their dream with the sweat off their brow. It was inspiring! But somehow it always just seemed kinda like managed chaos. I love all these men, and dreamed of someday being like them, but something didn’t feel quite right. Should gut wrenching hard work and managed chaos be my business plan as I started my businesses?

As I listened to their advice I decided to “get the best of both worlds”, work for a company (so I could collect benefits and pay the bills), and start my business on the side. (That was going to get me rich, Yeh Right!!)

Jump ahead a bunch of years. I find myself as a Master Mechanic at a Chrysler dealership and running a “successful” auto repair facility on the side. I have arrived! I have my hard work and managed chaos business plan fully into place and think I’m doing pretty good! (At least compared to my neighbors, well some of them). Why can’t I just cut a break? Will someone just throw me a bone? I am working more than any 3 men I know combined and still can’t get ahead, let alone rich.

Insert business plan number 2. Work harder and longer and something has to give! Now I’m fully working the patented Harder, Longer, I’m Tough I Can Handle It, Manage the Chaos 2.0 business plan. This has to work, right?

Jump ahead some more years and a few surgeries later. Now I’m 35 years old, body starting to see wear, family starting to get older, not getting the results I wanted, time for business plan 3.0. Manage my Chaos while going back to school business plan. This one has to work, third times a charm, right?

Work days, school evenings, run my repair business through the night,   j-u-s-t     h-a-n-g    o-n   a-l-m-o-s-t    t-h-e-r-e.  Oh yeh, I’ve got kids, throw in some quality time for them. (Isn’t it funny, I thought I could schedule quality time with the kids). OK honey, I have 15 minutes, let’s bond……WOW, that was great, good for me was it good for you? See you next week, honey. Be good for your mom.

A few more years ahead, (getting dizzy yet, seeing a pattern?). Now I’m done with school, working a desk job during the day (still running my garage nights and weekends.) Actually, I took a pay cut when I got out of school, but it felt right because the auto industry is in a backslide and I have better benefits.

This might sound like I’m making fun of myself and making light of my life but I am getting to a point, bear with me.

The point I’m getting at is: As long as I kept playing the game with the same rules, nothing was going to change. All that happened was I got really good at managing my chaos. I had a PHD in crisis management!!

I knew I had more in me!! I knew I was created for more than the results I was getting!! I knew I could be a better husband! I knew I could be a better dad, brother, son, friend!!

The day starts out at the gym like any other. I’m working out, (trying to rebuild my broken down, wore out body that I’ve been abusing for a couple decades). I run into my friend Steve. (I put a transmission in his Cadillac a couple years back). As we’re catching up and shooting the bull, I started laying out my life. All my business plans 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, do more. (Come to think of it, I think I did all the talking. He is a great listener!). He just nodded his head and smiled.  All my years that I spent getting good at managed chaos and crisis management, and he turned my world upside down in 5 minutes. He didn’t even tell me anything. He asked me a couple questions first, which I would ask you now.

Steve: If you continue to do what you are doing, 5 years down the road what has changed?

Nate: (thinking to myself) Uh Oh, this is gonna hurt!!

Steve: How is your plan working for you?

Nate: My eye was starting to twitch and there was some sort of pain starting to flood my brain.

Nate: To this I answer. “Aaah, well, aaah”

Steve: It’s OK Nate, you just didn’t have all the rules to the game. You just made the best decisions you could with the information you had. How would you like some different results?

Steve: Success is the progressive realization of your WORTHWHILE goals and dreams, it’s the journey, not the destination.

I’m not sure why Steve took me under his wing that day, maybe he felt sorry for me, or maybe he saw something in my eyes, or maybe a little of both, but that day started the most blessed journey I have ever started on. The quest for excellence. My thirst for information that no matter what I can’t quench.

So here starts my blogging. I’m no writer, nobody special, just a recovering auto mechanic with a thirst for something more that started on a journey a number of years ago and I decided to share some thoughts and stories.

And, by the way, to answer the question: Can Hard Work Get You Success?

My answer would be: It’s a great start!!



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