The SWEAT Pledge

Sweat PledgeOne of the key reasons I started this blog was to help give advice to young adults about getting their lives established. Across the roughly 150 articles published to date I have addressed a myriad of topics on personal finance, but career development has been largely ignored. Over the coming months I plan to write more about career development and how to make yourself stand out in a competive job market.  When it comes to career advice, I am a huge fan of Mike Rowe.  In an interview years ago I heard him state something along the lines of “If you show up early, stay late, have a positive attitude and volunteer for the hard tasks that no one wants, in 10 years you’ll be running the place.”  This quote stuck with me and in my own experience it has worked wonders.  Today I came across the SWEAT Pledge on the Mike Rowe Website, which I think is great advice for everyone.

“THE S.W.E.A.T. PLEDGE”

(Skill & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo)

1. I believe that I have won the greatest lottery of all time. I am alive. I walk the Earth. I live in America. Above all things, I am grateful.

 Just having this mindset changes how you interact with others. It changes your thought processes. Yes we all have bad days and suffer from setbacks and trials in our lives, but for the most part all people alive today, and especially in America have life far better than 99.999% of people who have lived before us in history.  We are all very lucky.

2. I believe that I am entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more. I also understand that “happiness” and the “pursuit of happiness” are not the same thing.

The world doesn’t owe us anything, neither do its inhabitants. If we want something we need to set ourselves up to achieve it.

3. I believe there is no such thing as a “bad job.” I believe that all jobs are opportunities, and it’s up to me to make the best of them.

Every job gives us the ability to learn new skills, to meet new people, and to pursue excellence.  One of my bosses a couple years ago was having an incredibly hectic day and I stopped and asked him how his day was going, his response “Another Opportunity To EXCEL.” This has stuck with me and I LOVE the mindset. My entry level fast food job and the soft skills I developed there, have directly led me to my current position.

4. I do not “follow my passion.” I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm.

 THIS!!!! Be passionate about what you do! As Dr. King said “my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; (Go ahead) sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.” Not that we have to be satisfied to ALWAYS be a street sweeper, but if that is where we are today, to strive for excellence in that station in life, and all others that we come across.

5. I deplore debt, and do all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I can’t afford.

Living bellow your means is the only way to build wealth. It also gives you control and security.  Debt does the opposite. The borrower is slave to the lender. The only debt I have allowed myself to maintain is that on my house, which I am paying down aggressively. 

6. I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being in “compliance” does not necessarily mean I’m out of danger.

 Our largest wealth building tool is our income.  Being safe at work isn’t done to satisfy OSHA or the plant manager, it is done so that we can go home the same way we got to work.  It’s certainly important to follow government and employer safety rules, but we have to OWN our own safety.  Beyond all the specific compliance rules is the concept that WE need to be engaged in keeping ourselves and our co-workers safe.

7. I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late, and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is.

Very few people do this CONSISTENTLY. If you set yourself up as the go to guy and get exposure for taking on hard projects and putting forth extra effort with a positive attitude, your name will be at the top of the list when special projects or promotions come up; and when people who left to pursue other opportunities find an opening at their new firms, whose phone do you think is going to ring?

8. I believe the most annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job, or find a way to be happy.

There is nothing wrong with identifying problems in our processes and trying to make them better, that is constructive critisism.  Whining is not that. Whiners and Eeyore’s bring everyone else down. If something is broken, propose a fix.

9. I believe that my education is my responsibility, and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning, and understand that library cards are free.

Learning doesn’t come just from college. Learning comes from books, from co-workers, from the internet and yes, even from TV. Learning comes from experience.  There are a myriad of ways to increase your knowledge and marketability outside of going to college. (which btw, there is nothing wrong with college, I’m just elaborating that it isn’t the only option to learn, and learning doesn’t stop with a cap and gown.)

10. I believe that I am a product of my choices – not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn’t do.

We are all the product of the sum of all of our choices, large or small. We may not be able to control everything that effects us, but we can control how we respond to it and how we set ourselves up in life.  Good leaders, whether working in a leadership position, or as leaders in LIFE give out more credit than they receive; and take more blame.

11. I understand the world is not fair, and I’m OK with that. I do not resent the success of others.

I have seen guys on my crew work one job and then move on to something else earning 6 figures.  Over the past 9 years I have seen dozens of my friends leave our project to find better positions elsewhere. Although this puts a drain on our resources temporarily, I am ALWAYS ECSTATIC for these guys to be moving forward in life.  Not only do I not resent the success in others, I want to ACTIVELY assist others in becoming more successful. I take great pride in the fact that the people who develop with our program move on to being all stars throughout the industry.

12. I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off.

At first you may not see the difference in results, but compounded over 2, 5, 10, 20 years putting in the extra hours, making a plan and seeking out self education will result in MAJOR differences.

On my honor, I hereby affirm the above statements to be an accurate summation of my personal worldview. I promise to live by them.

Signed_______________________________________ Dated____________________

I now have a SWEAT pledge printed off and hanging in my office. I have it surrounded with pictures of me working 16 hour days in a kitchen in the middle of summer when the thermometer only goes up to 99.9 degrees for $5 an hour, of myself cleaning out septic tanks, of shoveling snow right on Lake Michigan at night when it was 30 below, and a few other fun jobs. The SWEAT pledge is a great tool to use to move forward in your career and in life.

What do you think of the SWEAT Pledge, will you sign it?

John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John uses the free tool Personal Capital to track his net worth and posts quarterly updates on his finances. Check out the Action Economics archives section for all past posts.

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