10 December 2011

A Little Bit of Work

As a teacher, I’m sometimes astonished to see just how many students make so much effort to avoid doing just a little bit of work.  I can give very simple assignments and have half of my high-school students simply not do it–and they don’t seem to care at all that their grades are affected strongly by their lack of work.  While I’ve had other problems and issues in my life, this hasn’t been one of them–a little bit of work never has been a problem for me, and I’m usually more than willing to do my share of the work, especially when I see that I’m doing it for my benefit.

Perhaps my students simply don’t see the benefit of doing the work.  Perhaps they don’t understand how doing the work can make their lives easier or richer or more interesting.  And try as I might to tell them the benefits, they simply choose not to believe my words, believing instead that avoiding work is more beneficial to them than actually doing it.  After all, it does free up an extra half-hour or hour today, doesn’t it?  And they can spend that half-hour texting friends or playing video games or talking on the phone or watching TV.

But realizing that a little bit of work almost always has advantages for us is one of the keys to life–one of the keys to helping ourselves to make a difference in our own lives.  That work can prepare us for something important in the future, it can help us to understand something perplexing us in our present, or it can earn us a bit of money or a decent grade.  That work can enrich us in ways that we can’t even imagine–if we never do it.

Sometimes when I see a task ahead of me I balk at first, not wanting to commit myself to getting it done.  For I know that once I commit myself, I’m into the task for good.  But experience tells me that even with the somewhat unpleasant tasks, it’s much better to get it done and to move on to something else than it is to delay or to avoid doing it.  There are almost always repercussions and consequences to delaying and avoiding, and there are almost always rewards and benefits to getting the job done, and getting it done right and well.

Don’t be afraid of a little bit of work.  It’s all of those little bits added up to a whole that make our lives what they are, which means that what we are is a result of decisions we have made.  And what we will be shall be a result of decisions that we will make one day.  When there are tasks ahead of us, that means that there are also decisions involved.  And what will your decisions be?

I studied the lives of great men and women, and I found
that the people who got to the top were those who did
the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had
of energy and enthusiasm and hard work.

Harry S. Truman

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