A lesson I have learned from the podcast Smart People Podcast is that successful people are always learning and always taking away something positive away from whatever situation they are in. In a letter to James Harmon for his book Take my Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People who Know a Thing or Two, Bob Schacochis writes about one of his first jobs as a carpenter. Schacochis explains a lesson he learned when working with a carpenter. The carpenter who was guiding him and helping him learn how to be great at the craft said, “How many times I have to tell you college boys, when it comes to making mistakes a bad carpenter and a good is the same. The only difference is, the good carpenter figures out how to correct his.”
This quote speaks to me on multiple levels; about the difference between being good and great, about bringing lessons form one area of life into other areas of life, and about the importance of recognizing and avoiding your own sense of entitlement. As a young college student Schacochis did not have the patience necessary to be a great carpenter. He focused on his work and took the time to put a full effort into his work, but the problem was that he did not have the patience to double check his work and correct his errors. As the carpenter explained, good carpenters and bad carpenters both make mistakes, however the good carpenters make an effort to repair their mistakes. Schacochis was a poor carpenter not because he made mistakes, but because he tried to hide his mistakes without correcting the original problem. As I write this, I am thinking about all of the times recently where I have slacked at work, made small mistakes, or rushed through my work. By keeping this quote in mind at work I can re-focus on what will make me great, and what will make me average. I believe that keeping this quote in mind will help me avoid allowing my work to slack, which in turn will make me more confident while avoiding the anxiety that comes from hoping that supervisors don’t notice my mistakes.
When the carpenter working with Schacochis says, “How many times I have to tell you college boys,” it show how entitlement affects young people in the workplace. For college students the work they do to get through college is often times not meaningful work, or at least it does not appear to be meaningful work. Physical labor and difficult tasks are easy to slack on for students who are studying to reach higher places. The carpenter is calling out Schacochis for his entitled attitude, and how that attitude impacts his approach to physical work. Entitlement for younger generations is not just an expectation to have material things, but it also manifests as an expectation to not do difficult work.
With the lesson from the carpenter Schacochis was able to overcome his entitlement and begin focusing on being great. He took the lesson he learned from working with his hands and double checking his work, and applied it to other areas of his work. Successful people as I have learned from Smart People Podcast, are self aware enough to see where they need to grow and apply lessons from other areas of their life to those areas.