Friday, May 8, 2009

Get Into It

At first thought it wouldn’t seem that people WANT to be asked to sacrifice. But, that’s what I heard from a friend this week when we began talking about 9/11.

Tom Hemphill, the small business center director at Brunswick Community College, said, “The thing I resented was that Bush didn’t ask us, ask me, to sacrifice for the good of the country. He said, ‘Go shopping.’ He should have come to us and said, ‘We’re all going to have to sacrifice to win this war against terrorism. Now, here’s what you can do.”

All you have to do is read the headlines to know that once again we are in a tight situation. This time the challenge is internal instead of external. If you were too young, too unaware, too hesitant to step up during the civil rights or Vietnam eras you should understand that our current economic issues are the greatest challenges so far in our lifetimes.

So, starting today, I’m going on a crusade. President Obama may not be asking you, but I am: if you have a job, get into it and be more productive and creative. I’m convinced that the two factors that will pull us out of these tough times are two competitive advantages that Americans excel in: productivity and creativity.

Now, here’s the part some of you don’t want to hear. I don’t care if you don’t like your job. If you tell me, “But, I have bills to pay!” I understand, but I don’t care. The serious problems we are facing aren’t about you being able to pay for Spam. Our problems are about the United States as a nation surviving, continuing to flourish, and continuing to be the brightest opportunity in the history of mankind.

I’m sure that during the other times of challenge in our nation’s history; the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, the Depression, and WWII there were thousands of people who didn’t like their jobs. But, they stepped up, sacrificed, and did their share to move us forward. We owe them.

If you hate your job and cannot force yourself to get into it, have the guts to quit and give someone who wants it a chance. Believe me, there are thousands of people in America who would love to have your job and would probably be more focused, appreciative, and productive. It’s them we need in your job, not you.

One of my heroes, Becky Hudson, a mom in Wilmington who, with her husband, is responsible for 24-hour care of a daughter with Rett's Syndrome, says, “If you are into something in life that you can’t get out of, you’d better get into it.”

I’m not saying work harder…unless you should…and you folks who are slacking off know who you are (and, believe me, your coworkers know who you are!). I’m saying work smarter. Be more efficient and effective.

Stories have focused on the belief that the time of material excess is over. We’ve also gone through a period of “employment excess” (if someone has a better phrase for that please send it to me) in which we, as a society, had the luxury of wasting time, putting up with sub-par employees because it was too much trouble to get rid of them, overpaying for work because of union or political pressure and  overpaying for resources because we could, or simply didn’t want to confront the charge.

You have the opportunity to step up to the front lines by making a simple decision to, as President Franklin Roosevelt said, “Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are.”

If you are waiting to be asked, I’m asking. From one American to another, let’s get into it.

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