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
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