Motivation and context are extremely important ingredients for success.
This morning I was thinking back to a time when I had hair. A time when I was an uncomfortable teenager who helped his mom and dad clean up the apartment building at 2550 Kingston Road in Scarborough.
It was much less glorious than I am making it sound.
My dad was a good photographer and a great chemist in Poland, and my mother was a good economist until she developed heart troubles, but like the fate of most immigrants, the only available ways of making a living is doing jobs nobody else wants
So, my father was very happy to embrace some job security by becoming a Caretaker, but that in itself was not enough, so my mother and father also agreed to become an Assistant Superintendent. The job provided a free apartment and a little bit of extra income.
My parents came to Canada when my dad was 50 years old, and my mother was 46. They were not in the prime of their life, and her poor heart, made it even more difficult to perform any physical labour. But you must do what you must do.
Thankfully. I grew some, and mushroomed to a towering figure I remain today. I reluctantly did my best to help them when I could.
I was a typical teen, and dreaded any work. I had nothing better to do, but hated anything that would take me away from my room, where I was free to wallow in my inner angst and fits or passing anger.
There were a lot of needlessly lonely nights spent in that little room, but I digress.
It was my responsibility to change the industrial size garbage bins on four wheels, that got full quite quickly, when eighteen floors of people decided to cleanse their nests. It was insightful to discover that a lot of people try to burry a lot of their lives, down the shoot. It’s amazing what you uncover when you work with garbage.
I mopped and cleaned the elevators. I swept. I vacuumed the carpets. I picked up garbage that somehow always perpetually lingered and gathered friends. I shoveled snow in the winter. Raked leaves in the fall. But thankfully, I didn’t have to cut the grass.
The worst job however, was mopping the two, eighteen floor staircases. This is what I hated the most, but this was precisely what my parents needed me for the most.
This was the task I performed the most and for which they were most grateful.
I would bring a fresh, soapy, mop bucket, up to the eighteenth floor, and begin my descent down a flight of stairs, stopping two or three times, to change the water as needed.
I can still smell the dry urine which permeated the staircase. I can hear the scraping sound a wet mop makes when it tries to lift the yellowy, caked on urine reside, off the fading stairs.
I share this brief memory with you because I want you to know that I worked very hard for my parents. But I worked very reluctantly, and begrudgingly. I never said anything openly in front of them. I often smiled. I hated the job, but I understood there was no other choice. No other way out.
Apparently, my work ethic was so good that word soon spread and I was asked to help at one of the other apartment buildings, one summer.
I gently stress that it was for only one summer. I wish to further add that I only lasted one day, and was never invited to help anyone else again.
It was not easy getting fired for the first time in my life, and back then I claimed that they were unreasonable and unfair to treat me like that. Today I realize that I just sat around all day, moving from place to place, pretending to work.
This is why your motivation and context are really important.
Knowing why you are doing something, and how you got to this point in your life is extremely important.
It seems that our dreams and desire, without honesty, and the right motivation, don’t last very long. They fade fast. They die a lonely death.
They last about a day.
Being a reluctant worker is not something to aspire to.
But it is better to say no, and do something, than to say yes, and ignore it.
Its ok to be reluctant.
Its ok to be reluctant in love.
Just make sure you have a soapy bucket of water, and a fresh mop.
Don’t forget to hold your breath.