Hard Work Ethic From My Father

In business, family friends, motivation by Michael Michelini7 Comments

I remember growing up, my dad would never let me call out sick from school. No matter how sick I was, how tired, how depressed, discouraged, or anything – I had to go to school. I won the perfect attendance award every year I can remember, from 1st grade all the way through high school. It just wasn’t accepted, missing a day of school was cheating yourself out of the education you deserve – and could not be made up.

I think back to extra curricular, I signed up for T-Ball (for those of you who don’t know, baseball for kids – so the ball is held up on a stick) . Also found out about Boy Scouts – (well Cub Scouts at the time), and I enrolled there.

Always got my homework done, My dad would pay me a bonus for each A grade I got. It was a great incentive, a cash bonus.

jim michelini florida 2008I would save up my money from allowance and the extra A grade bonus I won, and I remember I was too young to go to Toys R Us, and I had to ask my dad for a ride there. “Why do you want to go there, to give away your hard earned money”. I would want to buy a nintendo video game, or gameboy game…..and I would have to SELL IT TO HIM. It was pretty funny, while watching the evening news, I had to prepare the catalog, magazine, or flyer about the game / toy I wanted to buy. I had to explain the reason it was good, what was new about it, different about it – and if the store had a sale or special on it. I hoped I could find a store with a sale that was running out soon, in order to push him to drive me there sooner then later!

At times, I remember using alternative ways to convince him, such as saying “well, I am not buying cigarettes with this money, right!”. And the fights about him not agreeing to what I was asking, and the “as long as you are under my roof, you will follow my rules”…….which did upset me because I was too young to get a job to earn my own way – I WANTED TO EARN MY OWN WAY!

But I think the pushing from my dad helped me constantly want to fight for more. To achieve greatness. But it did annoy me, even after I was the youngest Boy Scout in Hartford Troop 105 to achieve Eagle Scout rank (i was 14, or 15, and normally you are 18 when it is achieved), there was still some other goal I needed to get. Something else that was urgent I had to achieve. I was taking college classes at night while still in high school. Trying to get AP credits to apply to my university before I even got into College! Jeeeez. On top of having a part time job, on top of high school sports (haha, I suck at sports!).

Just always, more more more. Do more. Get more, be better. I would find ways to get it done. I had to cut corners, I had to think of faster ways to achieve the goal. To get it done. To move to the next step.

It was funny, the last requirement to achieve the Eagle Rank, the highest honor in Boy Scouts, is the “board of review”. I was 14! I was still a freshman in high school – normally that is for seniors to get. The scoutmaster knew I was persistent and knew I was passing off each step to get the rank – but I was following the rules. I put my time in for the senior project. But at this BOARD OF REVIEW, I had 3 different politicians – congressmen, judges, I don’t even really remember. I went there on a weekday night in downtown hartford, Connecticut. A bit nervous, but I was giong to pass them, I didnt’ care everyone said I was too young – that was not a requirement in the list.

I sat in the city hall, waited for them to call me into the board room. I remember probably getting red in the face, it really got hot in there…..I was nervous but tried not to show it. There was 2 men and 1 woman. The woman seemed more upset that I was so young….I can remember her tone still.

And then she asked me a question, something like about love and marriage – and I said something about how you must really love the person for who they are inside – as you will grow old with them and beauty fades with time and in order to stay with them forever you have to love them for whats inside, and not just outside. The interview ended, they asked me to step outside for a while while they discussed. I re-enter the room. SHE GRILLE ME, how immature I am, that my response to how women are ugly when they are older is an example of how immature of a little boy, and that I should not pass this board review. I had to stand up for myself, I did not mean to say she was old and ugly! I somehow recovered from her fury and explained what I mean is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that it ripens with age but is complimented with the enjoyment of spending time talking to your mate. Something along those lines…she still wasn’t too happy, but the other 2 pushed it along and I passed. boy-scouts-troop-105

But that is just how I have to keep pushing, get it done. Pass the tests, the reviews, the interviews. The challenges then when I was young seems more clear…at least there was a clear path, a test, a goal – an achievement. In “grown up world”, its so convoluted. Maybe this is why I lose my focus. As a BIG BOY, in BIG BOY world….there isn’t any more school, there isn’t any more A,B,C,D,F grades and then you move on to the next class. You have to set your own goals…..make your own path. And there is NO END. Life never ends, and your learning and striving for excellence is never ending.

I think this is why I get so impatient, and so frustrated all the time, because I see no end. No achievements. Maybe if I set more clear goals, and milestones. But still…..its not the same as school…and there seems less AWARDS and recognition here in small business life.

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  1. You know this is something I’ve come to realize distincly recently – I was talking about it Friday night with a friend actually 🙂 – my value more and more is in the planning and creative problem solving I offer my clients and people in my network. It’s all about knowledge creation. Putting people together to provide the solution is my value.

    I totally need to create my own goals and milestones – see straight to the point of monetization in my planning – on a clear, though always rough, timeline. Without these plans I think it’s too easy for me to get caught up wasting time on projects and endeavors that really ought to be low priority items.

    Dammit I really shouldn’t be expending much energy on anything except those things I’ve spent the time to plan properly!! Baby steps 🙂

  2. Author

    yea man…..we both get caught up with so many side projects….but I think it is a common problem, especially when residing here in China as a startup.

    Yes, we have to place our bets on what we like to do, and also w hat we think can be monetized…and stick with it…..

    make a plan, go for it, and if we fail, then so be it.

    everyone is afraid to fail, but having a ton of half done projects should also be considered failing to push us more, right???

  3. I haven’t seen you in 17 years, but I have just joined facebook, thanks to my Dad & I like hearing what you’ve been up to. When my other cousin Julie visited recently, I re-realized how much you can have in common with other family members, such as the way you think about life. As with her, you & I share the same grandma, which I think means 1/4 of our genes come from the same source, right? Perhaps this is more fascinating to me since I don’t have any siblings. As for your work ethic article, I have always loved school. That’s why I’ve gone back a few times. I was tested a few years ago & found out I have ADHD minus the Hyper part. I’ve always managed to do well in school because somehow in my flexible, childlike state I was able to get around the part of my brain that doesn’t work like everyone else. My confidence has always rested with my intelligence, but after years of underachieving (typical ADHD), at 40 years old, I have little career-wise to show for it. This is of course the opposite of you. Later, I did manage to gain confidence in another area of my life & that is my religion and I should never underestimate that. I admire your work ethic, your courage & determination. These are things I am still not very accomplished in unless there’s a time card I have to punch in. ADD people need a lot more structure to be motivated, unless it’s something they have a passion about and even that often changes from month to month. You’ve managed to continue to tap into wells of motivation, that most people will never be able to find within themselves. Anyway, in my little house here in Largo, FL, 5 minutes from the beach by car, I struggle with the never-ending dishes, the never-ending toys on the floor, etc. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m taking care of the people I love, but housework doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m thinking I need to make a list of everything (however small) I have accomplished and how I feel about it. I need to take a moment to mediate on the accomplishments of the day, because we can never receive enough positive reinforcement even if it has to come from within. This is because people with ADHD often have RDS, Reward Deficiency Syndrome. They just don’t get as excited about their accomplishments like other people, perhaps because of lower dopamine levels in the brain. Unfortunately, many people in general have resorted to substance dependence in order to counteract this. Well it’s 2 AM here & as a ADD-er I’m kinda rambling, but I just wanted you to know that in my very non-international way, I struggle with wishing life was like school too & goal-setting & achievement-questioning is probably a troubling issue for many people that are introspective & thoughtful. There are many people, however, who are unwilling to examine themselves and therefore be open to improvements they could make in their lives. Your meek (teachable) attitude is the start of wisdom and for this also, you are to be commended.
    Please take care of yourself.
    Your cousin,

  4. Also, a friend recently said to me about a long, difficult project, “It’s a process”. I know that should philosophically hit the nail on the head, but I can’t get my own head around that statement. Any ideas?
    p.s. I hope you don’t mind, but I brag about you all the time. Our great-grandmother & grandma Sandra would be so proud to see what their courage to come to a new, more promising country has led to.
    Good Night (Good Morning)
    Alicia Tarn

    1. Author

      hi Alicia, dear cousin!

      it has been too long!!! thanks for much for following my blog here, glad you are enjoying!!! yes……life is a PROCESS, that is for sure…….we are never perfect, we just keep on growing and developing….and thats what makes life beautiful. hope this helps…..just realizing this has made my life better…..to know there isn’t an end.

      Julie, I miss her too – glad you got to catch up with her – yes we all share the same grandma. I wish I was able to know Sandra more……I just remember her feet when I was a little boy….I think I was about 4 years old when she passed away. But she did a great thing comin to USA, for her family – and look how far we have gone…….and where it has taken us on.

      ADHD – maybe that is in our family genes? i am CERTAIN i would have gotten diagnosed with if it existed when I was in grade school. too many ideas….hard to focus………just wanting to learn more, explore more, experience more…….

      How is Largo, Florida – can I get there easily from my parent’s side of florida, port st lucie ?
      hope we do get to meet soon – I’ll be visiting in USA in september to november.

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