Some friends have a nephew staying with them for the summer. He’s a 17-year-old city kid from Georgia, who had never laid eyes on a cow in real life. These friends asked my dad if, when we needed extra help, he would be willing to have this kid come work on the ranch to give him something to do.
My dad agreed, and when the lad arrived for his first day of work, we learned he loved skateboarding and motocross. He also called my sister “dude,” and he was skinny as a rail. We were a bit skeptical about how much work he was capable of, but our list of jobs was long and the days were short, so we threw him right into things and hoped for the best.
He chopped thistles, threw square bales, mowed the lawn, pulled trees from around the foundation of a barn, and cleaned a creep feeder. Next on his list was to scoop out the barn like we girls always do it -- with a pitchfork, not a skid-steer.
Well, you can't judge a book by its cover, and it turns out he was a decent worker. And when my dad let him drive the tractor on his own to bale hay, and take the four-wheeler for a cruise, his grin was a mile-wide. Despite the hard work, he was having the time of his life! It was really cool to see him embrace the hard manual labor that comes with ranch life and actually enjoy it, too!
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I was thinking about this episode the other day when I ran across Mike Rowe’s SWEAT Pledge on Facebook. Rowe is the former host of the "Dirty Jobs" television show, in which he tackled an obscure, and often cringe-worthy, job each week. Rowe is also an advocate for getting Americans back to work in real life, and he embraces skilled laborers and a strong work ethic. His SWEAT Pledge is an acronym for “skills and work ethic aren’t taboo.” It’s also part of a $1-million scholarship fund to support those who want to learn technical skills in their post-high school educations.
I believe ranchers inherently following the SWEAT Pledge, without even thinking about it. I think you’ll appreciate the 12 points of the SWEAT Pledge, and why hard work pays off.
“THE S.W.E.A.T. PLEDGE”
(Skill & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo)
By: Mike Rowe
1. I believe that I have won the greatest lottery of all time. I am alive. I walk the Earth. I live in America. Above all things, I am grateful.
2. I believe that I am entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more. I also understand that “happiness” and the “pursuit of happiness” are not the same thing.
3. I believe there is no such thing as a “bad job.” I believe that all jobs are opportunities, and it’s up to me to make the best of them.
4. I do not “follow my passion.” I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm.
5. I deplore debt, and do all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I can’t afford.
6. I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being in “compliance” does not necessarily mean I’m out of danger.
7. I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late, and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is.
8. I believe the most annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job, or find a way to be happy.
9. I believe that my education is my responsibility, and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning, and understand that library cards are free.
10. I believe that I am a product of my choices – not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn’t do.
11. I understand the world is not fair, and I’m OK with that. I do not resent the success of others.
12. I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off.
I think the SWEAT Pledge is worth printing off and hanging in the barn, the office and on the refrigerator. These are the lessons my parents taught me as a child; and they are the lessons we want to impress on this city kid from Georgia. They’re also the life skills I want my daughter Scarlett to know someday, too. After all, hard work never goes out of style, and this SWEAT Pledge is certainly something worth following. Do you agree?
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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