Posted on 05.14.2018

Stepping Stones

I write a lot about work and attitude toward work because it is, and has been, such a large part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was raised in an atmosphere where there were few safety nets to catch the unemployed and if the family was to have food and shelter the breadwinner had no alternative but to earn a living.

For the men in my family, going to work was an accepted and natural part of life and if for some reason they lost their job they immediately set out to find another one.

My Daddy was up before the sun every morning and was on the job on time, put in a days work and came home tired and hungry, went to bed early and started the whole process over again the next morning.

I worked during summer vacation from the time I was ten years old. My first job was carrying water in a tobacco warehouse. I have picked cotton, cropped tobacco, worked in the log woods, cut yards and all manner of manual labor in my early days.

Two weeks after I finished high school I started work in a capacitor factory and I’ve been working ever since, but in 1958 when I got the chance to follow my heart’s desire by becoming a full-time musician, I enthusiastically entered the entertainment world and this June will mark sixty years since I made that decision.

I’m going around my elbow to get to my thumb here, to emphasize a point. I didn’t always like the work I did, but kept on keeping on until something I did like, in fact, loved with a passion, came along.

One of my favorite sayings, “If you can’t get what you want, take what you can get and make what you want out of it.”

In my case, it was using the weekends and spare time away from my regular job to seek out opportunities to let the world see what I was capable of and searching for the break I needed to be able to cut the apron strings and do it full time.

I was dealing with what I had and trying to make my working life into what I wanted it be.

Now, there are sacrifices to be exacted many times when you set off down this path, because just because you’re chasing a dream it doesn’t give you a license to sluff off on either job.

I accepted a job playing with a band six nights a week at a club in Jacksonville, NC which was 50 miles away from my home in Wilmington, NC, working eight hours a day at my daytime job, going home just long enough to shower and change, drive 50 miles to Jacksonville, play four hours of music, drive back to Wilmington, fall into bed around 12:30 or 1 o’clock, sleep a few hours and start the whole thing over early the next morning.

My only day off was Sunday, I had no social life at all, but I was working toward a goal and when that goal was achieved, it made all the sacrifices I had made worth it. I had taken what I could get and made what I wanted out of it.

Taking a job that is more menial than what you are qualified for, or is much less than your heart’s desire doesn’t have to be a dead end, but a means to an end, an opportunity to prove your mettle, to develop good work habits and learning to accept responsibility, while you wait for your break to come.

Life presents us with stepping stones along the way, and if we have our eyes and hearts set on something we have a fire in our bellies to devote our working life to, and put our minds and hearts into creating and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes along, if we are willing to go the extra mile and burn a few barrels of midnight oil and make whatever sacrifices are necessary, by the grace of God, we can get to where we want to go.

Use your head, your heart and your stepping stones.

What do you think?

Pray for our troops, our police and the peace of Jerusalem.

God Bless America

— Charlie Daniels


Feel free to comment on Charlie's soapboxes, but please refrain from profanity and anonymous posts are not allowed, we need a name and you MUST provide a valid email address. If you provide an email address, but leave the name as "Anonymous" we will pick a name for you based on your email address. No one other than website administrators will see your email address, not other posters. If you post without a valid email address, your comment (whether positive or negative) will be deleted. — TeamCDB


Wonderful story My Father always Said no matter what you did in life work hard and Be proud of the work you did . I remembered that my entire working life and proud of my work🙏
Posted by Eva
Stepping Stones
I know what you mean! I was a single Mom at 24 years old. My ex husband never paid child support. I worked 2 jobs for 2 years, but we made it!
Posted by Judy
Thanks for the personal and inspirational message. I have a professional career in finance but my heart is poetry and writing lyrics. I recently decided I need to pursue in my off time due to my responsibilties. Your post makes it that much more believable and reachable!
Posted by Robert
Stepping stones
Good writing Charlie. Sometimes those stepping stones in life aren't on real solid ground.......Ya gotta play the cards ya got...........Sometimes it ain't good....."Gotta pick yourself up & dust yourself off" & go on..........
Posted by Wayne
RE: Stepping stones
Always on target, Charlie. Good lesson. Maybe it's resume of life not a biography. Congrats on the 60 years of music. Thanks.
Posted by Jeff
Work ethics from 60s and 70s
Raised the same way. Now handicapped son is the only one able to work. Riding 10 speed bike 45 minutes one way in heat, rain, and hell. Old guys and young yelling at him to get off the highway, as he tries to get us little food to last another day. Before eviction and forclosure. No one cares. Too busy with their life, struggling to offer a cup of water in His name.
Posted by Martha
Stepping Stones
Thank you Mr.Daniels for Stepping Stones! I began listening to you way back in college and enjoyed your song and song writing. Now you are blowing me away with your common sense narratives I have recently been following on Twitter. My dad had the same work ethic you write about and I try to embrace that and hope that our younger generations gain an understanding of our shared values. God bless you!
Posted by Dirk
electrolytic or mylar?
A capacitor factory! Did you ever wire up an electrolytic capacitor backwards, with the power switch off, and then throw the switch? When I was in electronics school I had a classmate who did this, and the hot sticky snow which blew out of the capacitor landed on his face and hands. He was kicked out of school, but the instructor informed us that there is usually some joker who tries it. ~
Posted by Allan
Stepping stones
Just very uplifting to read your Comments! Thanks! J.D. Williams
Posted by J.D.
Stepping Stones
Loved this. To many people this day in age do not have a work ethic because all the entitlement programs make it easier to set the bar low and just get by on what the government will give them. I know so many people that the woman gets assistance for herself and kids while the boyfriend works or sells drugs and they lie and say he's not living in the home. The world needs more people with this kind of work ethic.
Posted by Katrina
Work Hard
Amen, Amen & Amen Charlie my grandpa always preached work never killed anybody, even though he was killed by a drunk driver who hit his tractor on the highway. I have always believed that hard work can can beat talent 9 times out of 10 when the talent is to lazy to work. I will never understand people who have been blessed with a talent by God and either use it for evil or not at all. My personal record while working construction was 184 days without a day off, including working Resurrection Sunday, The grandsons look at amazement at old paycheck stubs that show 106 hours per week, after week, but like I tell em there are 168 hour in every week. nuff said God Bless Plowboy
Posted by Plowboy