My Mom and I recently discussed what makes a person successful. Education and opportunity are obvious factors. But where does a person get their drive, their ambition, their work ethic. She believes these traits are inherited. I might have to agree.
My wife and kids have a name for me when I take on large tasks which consume most of my weekend, like cleaning the garage or straightening the attic. They call me “Tom.” That is my Dad’s name. They call me this because my Dad never sits still. He works all the time.
For example, I called my Dad on his 79th birthday last July 13. I asked him what he was doing to celebrate. “Striping the parking lot,” he said. It was about 102 degrees that day, but he spent the entire day painting 150 yellow stripes in the parking lot of his building. By himself. I asked him whether he thought he should hire someone for the job. “I talked to a guy about it but he wanted $500 for the job.” I did the math. Five hundred divided by 150 came out to a little over $3 per stripe which sounded more than reasonable to me. But that wasn’t the point.
Here is another example. I spoke with my Dad the day after Christmas. He had been sick in bed on Christmas day so I had not had the chance to speak with him. He picked up the phone and the first words out of his mouth were: “Time to stop screwing around. Christmas is over.” This was the way he communicated. He not only meant that it was time for him to stop screwing around. It was time for me to stop screwing around also. Didn’t I have anything better to do than to call up there on a Monday morning? Especially a Monday after a long holiday weekend. Time to get back to work.
I’m not even in the same league when it comes to my Dad and his legendary work ethic. But I like to think I carry a small part of his work ethic DNA. At least when my family calls me “Tom,” it makes me smile. I’ll take it.