A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Feeding Yourself

Hello and welcome to all of you that are working hard in the workforce and the construction trades. I had a very interesting discussion with one of my students this week. His request at first sounds pretty legit, but when you examine it further I believe that this may be one of the main reasons why many give up way too easily. This student’s request went something like this: “I need you to show me in the textbook exactly what I need to study, so that I don’t waste my time studying things I don’t need.”

My first response was that the purpose of this test was not to test your memory to see if you can memorize a few pages, but to see if you have a basic understanding of the material that is needed to work out in the field. The student then restated the request saying that he only needed to know what was on the test. I asked if I should point out all the key phrases in the text and highlight the ones that were going to be on the test for him. He thought that this would be a great idea. I then asked him, “If I do this, then once the test is completed would that test illustrate your knowledge of the material?” His response really baffled me. He said that the taking of the test really did not matter because eventually he would pass the test.

This student wanted the answers, so that he could reap the reward of a passed test without putting in the hard work. Shall I say, he wanted to “have his cake and eat it too.” We all know that as simple as that phrase sounds once you eat the cake you no longer have it. This student had the attitude that if you have to work too hard for something, it is not worth it; to just go for the low-hanging fruit. This type of attitude can actually keep you from ever succeeding. Many people do not understand why they cannot seem to move ahead. They really believe the notion that it is not fair that they did not succeed when others did. Their definition of success becomes blurred as to what success actually is. The only concern that my student had was to pass the test; he had no real passion to learn the material.

Trying to take the easy way out will only leave you bouncing from task to task, never really growing and again not understanding why many keep passing you by. The hard truth is that you have to be the one to not only set your goals, but to also work to obtain them without expecting someone else to meet your goal for you. Oh, but wait! Are we all not supposed to be helping each other succeed? Yes, absolutely! However, helping someone is different than doing everything for them.

I heard the following analogy about an eagle and an egg. When a young eaglet is in the egg, it is very weak and small. During the incubation time as it starts to develop it starts to want to be free of the shell that surrounds it. As the young eaglet keeps pecking at the shell his beak and muscles are getting stronger. Until one day, he breaks free and is hatched from the egg. A healthy eagle emerges and within 3 to 4 months is able to soar to great heights. If you were to go back and help the eaglet while he was still in the egg, then there are good ways to help and ways that seem good but are not. One way you could help is to keep the egg warm and safe from being broken. But some may try to help by pulling away the shell once the eaglet broke through, thinking that they would help the eaglet to not have to work so hard. That’s a nice thing, right? Well, not really. Because the eaglet did not have to work hard to free himself from the egg, he will not be strong enough to fly and will need to rely on outside help.

In the same way, by just giving a person the answers to a test or solving whatever struggle he or she faces, the only thing that person will learn is how to rely on someone else to do things for them. I am reminded of an old proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Learning is not the same as memorizing for the moment. When you learn something, it continues to fine-tune you and help you grow stronger. If someone helps you out, that is great, but don’t expect them to do the work for you. Instead, take a moment to thank them and use that knowledge to succeed. You have the passion and will power within you to achieve your goals.

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