My Grandfather was an amazing man. He taught me so much in the short time I was with him that it isn’t even funny. I would hang on every word that man would tell me because quite frankly I thought he hung the moon. Yesterday a couple of events reminded me about the greatest lesson he ever taught me;
Work hard. Sacrifice. Be the Best. Forget about money.
It all sounds fairly simple and straightforward doesn’t it? Now I need to explain it because it’s not as straightforward as it may seem.
Work hard. Lots of people do that. Anyone can work hard but that wasn’t what Grandpa meant. He didn’t just work hard but he always worked for something. It didn’t matter what that was or even what he had to do there was always something he was working for. His mind was never on what he was doing but where the work was taking him. People would ask him why he worked so hard or how he could work that many hours or even ask him when he slept; he would just smile right back and keep on doing his thing.
Sacrifice. That’s a word people during my Grandpa’s day understood and actually lived out. They gave up some things they didn’t need in order to get what they really wanted. Sometimes that meant an extra job, or moving to where your girl lived even if that meant making less money or taking a pass on going to a movie and staying home and watching a rerun on TV. One time I asked my Grandpa why he had a hole in his sock and he told me that’s what shoes were for. Then he showed me the brand new motor for his fishing boat and I understood! The hole in his sock meant nothing but that new motor meant everything to him! Without sacrifice you can work until you drop and you won’t get very far.
Be the Best. That’s not easy and the definition isn’t always clear and oftentimes debatable. My Grandpa always said to make yourself irreplaceable because if you are than you will always be the best in someone’s eyes. It means always go the extra mile. Never stop learning. Never for once believe you’ve finally made it because there will always be someone better than you. Be humble and be forthright. Do what you say you will do when you say it. Honor your commitments even when it costs you and you will always be the best in someone’s eyes.
Forget about money. You need money to live. No doubt about that. Money is important but when you are attempting to reach your dreams money is the last thing you should be focused on because you will always be disappointed and so will those around you. Believe me when I tell you that if you do the first three things on my Grandpa’s list the money will eventually come. You won’t have to ask for it. You won’t have to walk around with a sour dour face all day because you aren’t getting what you thought you deserved. People pay for quality. People pay for not only what others can do but also how they do it. Sometimes you have to keep plugging away but eventually the money will come.
My Grandpa was an ironworker. He followed these principles and met four other guys who were just like him and together they formed an ironworker dream team if you will. They were considered the very best at what they did and were called out on jobs all over the world. While they helped build many amazing structures worldwide my Grandpa’s dream was to be a part of a structure that people would stare at and say “how the heck did they do that”.
In 1965 there was just that structure being built in St. Louis Missouri. Labeled as a monument to the expansion in the west this structure was huge but there were problems. The contractors called in my Grandpa and his team to help and the rest shall we say is history. I remember many years later as an adult being in St. Louis and sitting on a park bench watching the people gawk and marvel and I swear some little kid asked his Grandpa “how did they do it Grandpa. I just smiled…dream accomplished!
Yep, my Grandfather helped build the famous monument the St. Louis Arch.
My events yesterday? Hardly as big as that. All I will say is;
#12 and counting Grandpa!