I don’t know anyone that enjoys hard work, but the ethic that it develops is extremely valuable. The earlier you learn how to work hard and how to handle hard things in life the earlier you are going to have success.
The most helpful things in life haven’t been when I’ve received money, but life lessons that help me become a better person. I already shared the extremely valuable and hard lessons that my grandpa taught me early in my life. Now I want to share real work-life lessons.
Learn To Work Hard – Getting My First Real Job
My first real job was working on the greens staff at a country club golf course. I had delivered newspapers and cut lawns, but this was a real job where I punched in and had a boss and was making a monster $4.25 minimum wage. However, this was also the first place I ever asked for a raise and I got it! I think it was 50 cents.
One of my neighbors was the superintendent of the golf course and one day I approached him about a job. My parents had asked me once I turned 16 what I wanted to do for work during the summer. I didn’t know what I wanted to do I just knew what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to bag groceries or work fast food.
I approached my neighbor in the springtime and asked if he would have an opening on his staff during the summer. He said he probably would and got me an application. My neighbor was a super nice guy and taught me in scouts and in 4-H how to build lamps, jewelry boxes, and more out of oak.
Learning to Do Hard Physical Labor
As soon as school was over I was at the country club at 6 am the next morning. It was only a few miles away so I rode my bike to work. We started at 6 am and we were done at 2:30 pm. The early hours were rough at first but you got used to it. Plus you needed to get a lot of work done in the dark before the golfers got on the course.
I thought working on a golf course would be lots of fun work and we’d get to play golf. Uh…no. And especially not at a country club. We had a quick meeting at 6 am to give out daily assignments for mowing greens and which direction to mow them. Who was cutting the tee boxes, and fairways, who was switching up the cups, and everything that needed to be done? You had to be out working by 6:15 am.
I got stuck weed-eating a lot since I was a newbie. Weed eating at home isn’t a big deal. Weed-eating a 7200-yard golf course with multiple lakes and rivers takes forever. If we had all 15 on staff we could get it done in 1 day. If we had four of us, it took most of the week.
We planted trees, rebuilt greens and tee boxes, buried power lines, and built new sand traps. It was a lot of hard work besides having rich people yell at you all day long. I loved working outside and had one of the best farmer tans around. I worked here for 7 years through high school and college. I’ve been back to visit and have always been offered to work there again which is funny because I make more than the superintendent but he still pictures me as the little kid down the street.
Do You Even Know How to Use a Shovel?
I remember one day digging a hole and my boss drove by and came up to me and the other person working with me and ripped the shovel out of my hand and said,
“Do you even know how to use a shovel?”
He started digging like a madman and had that hole done in minutes. He handed me the shovel and drove off in his cart.
There was my way to dig which was casual and taking my time and then there was my boss’s timeline which was different than what I expected. He always yelled out “stop lollygagging.” I’d laugh because I thought it was a made-up word but it’s a real word and pretty old school.
But he always taught me if you are going to do something, you might as well get it done and the right way and fast.
My First Real Job Out of College – You Want Me to Do What?
My first job out of college was in the TV business. I studied to be a reporter and my first job was in Idaho Falls, Idaho. I applied to be a reporter but when I got to the station the New Director said he needed a weekend weatherman.
My experience with the weather was zero. The weather was for nerds in the business. I knew nothing about it. I said I didn’t know anything about the weather. He said he didn’t care and wanted to know if I knew what a cloud looked like and if I could point to one. I said let me think about it.
One of my friends had graduated the semester before and was at the station and suggested I take it and work my way up. He said reporters leave all the time to get bigger jobs. I needed a job and knew you had to work your way up to get bigger jobs in other markets so I might as well get started and point at some clouds.
Everyone is Quitting
I was a horrible weatherman. I studied to be an investigative journalist and I was good at it and here I was doing something I had no idea how to do. I knew it, and the public knew it, but I got better with time. The hardest part wasn’t doing the news it was the calls that would come before the newscasts. Here are some of the calls I had.
- The contractor asked if it was okay to pour $100,000 worth of cement for a building in a few days. Too much rain would mess it up. I had no idea what to say so I told him there was a chance of rain and I wasn’t sure about the complexities of how much water was okay for cement so it would have to be his call.
- I had a father call and ask if it would be okay to send his teenagers on a road trip with ice on the road. They needed to get back to college and wondered if the weather would hold up.
- I had people call constantly about outdoor wedding receptions asking if they would be okay or if they should change locations to indoors and had thousands tied up in catering and decorations. Well if I’m not invited for free food…I don’t care so good luck.
47 Straight Days Work – 19-Hour Shifts
The toughest part came when our regular night shift weather man quit going to the national weather service and then our morning guy left to go to another TV market. So I was the only person on staff and had to cover shows at 5 am, 6 am, Noon, 5 pm 6 pm, and 10 pm.
I had to work 47 straight days from 3 am to 11 pm. So when my employees complain about working long hours I tell them my story and then say, “so tell me again how hard your work schedule is?” Then I smile and the conversation is over.
I’ll be honest weather isn’t the toughest and where else can you be consistently wrong and still get paid or no one really holds you accountable? Well, I guess weather and stock market investing shows The one nice thing is once you have a weather cast done things don’t change from newscast to newscast.
I just had to stay awake and I also probably watched every Saturday Night Live in history on comedy central. The other weathercasters had their TV on the weather channel, I watched ESPN and comedy central. I would also take breaks between shows and get naps in as well.
Often we aren’t going to challenge ourselves to do things that we don’t think we can do. Did I want to shovel faster? No. But my boss had bigger expectations of me and showed me how to do the job. Did I want to work 47 days straight with 19-hour shifts? (thank goodness for overtime pay!) No, but now I know I can do hard things and accomplish more than I ever thought possible.
I also know that I didn’t want to be in a position again where others were in charge of my schedule and knew that I needed to become a boss to control my own schedule. Took some time but I got there. Lessons learned!