Work Feeds Your Soul: Why Geoffrey Owens Deserves Your Respect

Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all. ~ Sam Ewing

Honorable work feeds your soul. It doesn’t matter the money that comes from it, though the more the better. It doesn’t matter what the work is. Doing work and doing it well is always better than not doing it at all.

And it’s not just a matter of paying the bills or ‘following your passion’, doing work for the sake of the work feeds your soul no matter what the work is, it tells the world what kind of character you have and it gives you a definite reason for being here.

Yesterday I was out golfing with a pal of mine. After the round we went for a bite to eat and a beer and a story about a former cast member of the Cosby Show, Geoffrey Owens, came up on his phone. The headline read something along the lines of, Former Cosby Show Cast Member Seen Bagging Groceries.

He read the title aloud. We both looked at each other and basically said, How is this news? The guy’s working.

The conversation shouldn’t be one of belittling a man for working. It shouldn’t be a conversation at all. If anything, applaud a man for doing work. And to be honest, I respect the fella bagging groceries more than I respect the fella pretending to be someone for a living. 

No man doing any sort of honorable work should ever be looked down upon. Ever. For any reason.

And yet, that’s what people do, and many of those laughing don’t understand what an honest day’s work is, just like most people who mock a fighter for fighting a bad fight have never actually stepped in the ring themselves because they’re too damn scared to. They enjoy the role of the critic more than they want to be the man in the arena, ‘whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood’, as Theodore Roosevelt once said.

Work Is A Reason for Your Life

When we lack meaning in life, we lack purpose and we lack direction. We wander. We wade. We aimlessly walk on no particular course. (check out the latest episode of the Man Show here)

Work gives us a direction to move toward. It gives us a reason to wake up in the morning. A paycheck from work well done gives our families a roof over their heads.

Humans need work of any kind so as to do more than merely exist.

There Is No Lowly Form Of Honest Work

Work has dignity in it. It doesn’t matter what the work is, doing it makes you better than you are if you’re not doing it.

Thus, there is no lowly form of work if the work is honest. If you’re cheating people out of their money, yet you’re driving around in a Ferrari, you are literally much worse than the guy who fixes your Ferrari.

If you collect welfare and you don’t even try to find work, you’re a worse person than the guy who, every day, wakes up and picks up cans and returns them for change. You’re worse than the guy who’s hit rock bottom in life, but still applies every day to every sort of work he can think of.

If you have a trust fund, money that you get because your old man worked his ass off and left you in a better financial position than he was in when he was born, and you choose not to work, you’re a worse person than the lady who drives the bus in your neighborhood, your garbage man, your maid, the teachers you had, the coaches you’ve had, the guy who’s going to sell you your latest car.

There is no lowly form of work, but not working and looking down on someone who does is extremely lowly, despicable, and weak.

In The Case of Work, Respect the Effort

We’ve fallen into the trap of praising participation in our schools, which is ridiculous. But when it comes to work, no matter where the person is working, respect the effort they give, sometimes regardless of the result.

Giving effort in work is reason to hold your head high. It’s reason to be proud. No matter what you’re doing, if you give effort, you win respect.

Take Pride in The Work You Do

No matter the job, honor the work by taking pride in how you do it.

There is no better quote for a man to live by than this one from Martin Luther King Jr.:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

Reassess Our Idea of What Deserves Respect

The doer of good work demands respect.

That can show itself in billions earned, dozens of books written, a fixed truck, a well-built house, or groceries bagged in a good, friendly fashion.

The man doing his work well does not deserve or warrant pity or a lack of respect. If he opens the door for you at your swanky hotel or apartment building, thank him with respect, much in the same fashion you would thank the carpenter who laid the bricks on the outside of the building or the architect who created the plan for the building or the businessman who funded the entire project.

I respect any man that gets in the ring or the octagon and fights a real fight.

I respect any man who wakes up early and goes to work and takes pride in how he works.

I respect any man who doesn’t complain about what life has handed him, where it has put him, but rather realizes that no matter where he is in life, he must work, and he must do a good job.

I do not respect the critic.

I do not respect the kid – ‘kid’ can damn well be a 40-year old today, a great example of this is/was Bernie Sanders, who got his first job when he was 40, up until then he lived with and off of his parents – living off his folks who looks down upon those doing honest work.

I do not respect the politician who does not provide any real service who looks down upon the business owner who provides a great service and gets paid well for it, or the hedge fund manager who has millions of his own money in the market, and who makes correct assertions that help him make many more millions.

I do not respect those who do not respect people doing a good job at their job, no matter what they job may be.

Be a Man.

It’s a simple request, and one I know you’re already living.

In this instance ‘being a man’ means doing whatever work you’re doing, whether you’re paid well or horribly for it, well.

It also means that you respect any other man or woman for doing the same, no matter how glamorous or unglamorous the work may be.

Our society needs to move away from being one that looks up to the Kardashians and has more respect for the fella bagging groceries or making sandwiches or picking up garbage or laying bricks or building companies or funding companies and so on and so forth.

We should respect the business owner who creates jobs more than the politician who does everything he can to get in the way of said job creation by constantly creating new regulations.

Work is honorable.

To avoid working, to look down on those who do work, is not honorable.

If you want to get better at doing work, pick up a FREE copy of my audiobook The Lost Art of Discipline HERE