Sunday, August 9, 2015

From the Ground Up

"A dream doesn't become reality through magic;
It takes sweat,
determination and hard work."
- Colin Powell

From an early age I was taught the importance of effort and attitude.  As I listened to stories from my dad and grandfather.  The message was simple, "Don't be outworked!"  I dedicated myself at a young age to being the hardest worker I could be.  Even at practice I never wanted to lose.  

My first job was as a caddy at the Country Club of Jackson.  As a caddy I learned several valuable lessons, most importantly, learning when to speak and when to simply be quiet.  This was something I needed to experience.

After two years of caddying I was asked by the head pro to work in the bagroom.  This was a BIG DEAL!  I accepted without hesitation.  What happened next was really tough.  For the next two years the majority of hours I received were being in charge of picking the range.  This was the lowest of lows.  Everyone despised picking the range and that was my spot.

I hung in there and after several years I moved up the bagroom ranks.  I was getting great experience and really improving my skills with people. 

Each summer I returned home from college and went to work at the country club. I had worked my way up to head of the bagroom, and then to my surprise, my boss began giving me pro shop hours. After a year of splitting time between the pro shop and bagroom I was then moved up to pro shop attendant.  I could see myself progressing, but I also understood that I had one year left in college and my dream was to teach kids.  It wasn't easy to say goodbye.  But I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life.  There is no substitute for hard work and a positive attitude.

I felt compelled to share this story after reading the autobiography by George Bodenheimer, Every Town is a Sports Town.  In this story George shares a memory about the time he received an offer to work for ESPN, making only $8000 a year. George and his dad went to a local pub to discuss his first job offer.  His dad asked him a simple question, "Are you making a money decision or a career decision?

This really hit home and inspired this post.  How do we teach our kids, our students, the value of hard work, determination and a positive attitude?  The sense of entitlement that I see and hear often leaves me scratching my head.  Rarely do you hear the "George" stories anymore- those stories of people starting at the bottom and working their way up.   

Is there a way to get back to the days when the expectation was to start at the bottom and work your way up?

This Week's Big Questions: How can we teach our kids the value of sticking to something and learning through experiences?

How will you create an atmosphere that pushes kids to think and work, but also allows for risk taking, creativity and imagination?

Upcoming Events:

Wednesday, August 12th:  EdTech Kickoff at Western High School
Thursday, August 20th:  Admin Retreat
Friday, August 21st:  Admin Retreat
Friday, August 21st:  Staff Kick-Off 6pm at the Gilpin's
Friday, August 28th:  Class Lists posted
Monday, August 31st:  New Teacher Orientation
Tuesday, September 1st:  Staff PD Back-2-School meetings
Wednesday, September 2nd:  Staff PD Back-2-School meetings
Wednesday, September 2nd:  Back-2-School Night 5pm - 7pm
Tuesday, September 8th:  First Day of School

Articles Worth Reading:

Head Held High @TechNinjaTodd

Videos Worth Watching:

Ricochet surfs with kids!  Powerful story (8 min)

Life is meant to be epic! (3 min) @SpencerIdeas

Epic or Fail with @TheEllenShow (4 min)

Every Kid Needs a Champion, with Rita!  Best way to start the school year... (7 min)


  1. Ben,

    Interesting thoughts! Parker Palmer hits on this by connecting something we enjoyed doing while we were children to a part of the job/career we end up having when we are older. Any for you?

    As for what teachers make, here's a phenomenal clip on that:

    Your questions are making me think more now too. Since I teach EFL in China, I've recently started making posts on Chinese SM in both languages. My hope is through additional encouragements & challenges, my students will see firsthand the failures and successes that come with risks.

    Thanks again for your post!


    1. Good for you Daniel. It's not easy to step out of your comfort zone. I can't even imaging the complexities of sharing in mutliple languages.

      Keep it up!

  2. Ben,
    Great question. As my boys are getting older, I'm seeing this first hand at home. They are the "instant/one click generation" and I was a "dial up modem" generation. My husband and I work long hours and think that by default our kids will see that hard work pays. Yet, in all transparency - they look for the short cut whenever they can. Perhaps it's their age, but perhaps there is a societal message stronger than our family values? I remember in college sometimes getting the best grades on papers when I spent less time on them. That was a confusing message as a learner - and why would I work harder to receive the same or lower grade?
    I still believe the work ethic you demonstrated in your story is evident in how you live your life today - your commitment as a husband, father, lead learner and someone who wants to leave something for others and not just live for yourself.

    I guess the bigger challenge is that not everyone's "bottom" is the same right?> and should everyone start at the bottom - in other words would the impact be the same/detrimental.

    Thanks again for sharing your heart -
    always inspired by you!