How to transform the worst job into the best
After surviving eight months of boot camp and infantry school, I was sent to a recon unit in the 1st Marine Division. As scouts who relied on stealth and speed, we exercised every day – and that included the worst thing I could imagine: running.
You may think I mean sweat-band-wearing, Bonnie-Tyler-on-the-walkman, trying-to-get-in-shape-for-the-reunion, jogging, but I don’t mean that at all. We ran like we just robbed a liquor store and this was our third strike.
I knew that sprinting up the California hills was harder on some days than others, but I didn’t understand why. Then, on one of the hard days, our colonel passed me and said something that changed my life. He told me to find someone who was doing worse than me – and motivate him.
So I did.
Some hung-over guy was wheezing along in the rear and I dropped back to run with him. As we puffed along, I talked – offering encouragement and telling jokes – and before I knew, it we were back at the barracks. Helping the other guy actually helped me too. The next day I tried the colonel’s advice again, and again it worked. Without realizing it, I had gone from victim to leader.
After this epiphany, running was much less terrible. I changed the worst part of my day into one of my favorites – all thanks to my commander’s advice:
If you think it’s going to suck, it will.
Col. Myers taught me what may be the most important lesson of all time: our attitude affects all that we do.
We all face some kind of ‘running’ every day; and for most of us it’s our job. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece about how far from gruntled America’s workforce is. According to a survey, 76 percent of us wouldn’t recommend our employer to a new hire. America hasn’t seen an approval rating that low since the last Ben Affleck movie.
In life, you have to run whether you like it or not – and whether you like it or not depends on how you look at it. I learned a long time ago that being a leader helps to take the sting out of an unwelcome task.
Not being in charge, mind you, but being a leader – and there is a difference. A leader isn’t always the suit who writes a memo and demands obedience; it’s usually the guy who helps others get through the day and makes those around him better.
By helping someone else reach the finish line, I forgot about how hard it was for me, and I also became the guy my fellow Jarheads looked to for approval. I became a leader instead of a victim – by the simple act of changing my attitude.
As you’re lacing up your go-fasters in the morning, remember: Whether you think your job will be difficult or easy, you’re right!