What Do You Choose? – Mary Chavez-Calkins

What Do You Choose?

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…”  President John F Kennedy, September 12, 1962

Much is made of privilege in the media and pop culture, a  voice missing from this discussion is the one celebrating a lack of privilege and the work ethic that accompanies it.  

My father immigrated to this country in the 1950s and faced many hardships that I will never know.  Once, while complaining of some unfairness, he gave me this advice, “The world is not fair.  Because we are different, I had to work twice as hard as anyone else to achieve as much.  You will carry that same burden and more.  You are not entitled to anything, just by the virtue of your birth, and this is the greatest gift you will receive.”  

I didn’t get it, I only heard unfairness – why should I have to work harder than my peers?  Shouldn’t I receive the same passes on hard work that others received?  I’m sure that my initial response was terrifically unimpressive, but I begrudgingly accepted his advice.  

At some point, I realized that I work hard, because it is the only way I know how to work.  Rather than being angry or feeling betrayed by the universe, I learned that Dad was right, knowing that I had to earn my way was a great gift.  A lifetime of effort prepared me for success in a way better than if things came easily; I was better prepared for the pitfalls of life than someone who was handed everything and I hope that you will be, too.  

Choosing to be great won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.  I hope that you will embrace the hard work ahead of you.  The next time you are faced with a seemingly insurmountable task, remember that choosing hard work today will make hard work easier tomorrow.  If NASA could successfully send people into space before calculators and computers, you can dominate any challenge you choose to accept. 

Guest bloggist, Mary Chavez-Calkins, is a supporter of “A Beautiful Me®”. She lives in Chicago and has a management role in Professional Development and Retention at Kaye Scholer LLP.