Throughout my career, work has required varying levels of travel. Shortly into my work-related travels, I developed the routine of ironing all shirts and slacks the night I arrived at my destination. This would leave my wardrobe ready for the upcoming days. Over time it became second nature to follow a very prescriptive method of ironing, especially shirts. I don’t enjoy ironing, but I take pride in the work I do, especially if the end product is a well-ironed shirt. The other day I found myself teaching my 15-year-old son how to iron his shirt. I shared with him all the knowledge and experience I have gathered throughout the years of perfecting my ironing skills. Throughout my career I have learned that what defines our work ethic is not how well we perform the jobs we love or enjoy doing, but rather how well we do the ones we loathe. I believe that how well we do the things we hate to do, define how well we will do the rest. When speaking about this concept, Martin Luther King said:
If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music … Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. 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.
This is what I know about things we don’t like to do: We never become exempt from them. It does not matter their title, or how much money they have, pick anybody you admire, they will have things in their daily routine that they do not enjoy doing. Ultimately how we do these things says a lot about who we are. If we allow those things to change our work ethic, we are in essence allowing them to define us.
So how do we deal with them? Take Dr. Martin Luther King’s words to heart: Sweep like Michelangelo.