Reaching Your Potential

Early in my career I met a fellow locksmith named Bob. Bob quit school at age 14, lied about his age, and joined the Army during the second world war. After the war Bob soon married and his family quickly grew to a wife and several children. In order to support his family, Bob became a carpenter, learned how to install locks and eventually got a job working as a locksmith for my father.

With his sparse background in school, Bob had trouble writing bills or adding numbers, but he was the best and fastest lock installer I ever met. Every day he would load up his truck with supplies for jobs and every day for 30 years, those jobs were done right and done on time. At night and on weekends Bob spent over a year single-handedly building a house for his family. He still lives there today.

I was reminded of Bob a few weeks ago when television began showing images of people occupying parks around the country. I understand their frustration. I also have sympathy for the individual problems they may have but not with the method they have chosen to show their displeasure.

We live under the greatest governmental system on earth. We have the right to start our own business and live where we want. We even have the right to voice our opinion about our government without fear of reprisal.

Along with all of these rights comes responsibility. Under our rules, the government does not owe us a living. We have to individually find a way just like Bob did years ago. Sitting down and waiting is not the answer. Success in life comes from getting in there and competing just like everybody else.

One of the politicians running for office is currently advocating the use young people as janitors in schools as a way to learn the work ethic at an early age. I am ambivalent when it comes to political parties, but the work-for-pay ethic worked for me.

At age 12, it was my responsibility after school to vacuum every key machine in our family lock shop and then sweep the floors. If it wasn’t done according to the wishes of my father, it was done again. At $10 a week pay, I purchased my own car for $750 at age 16. That represented 75 weeks of pay while saving every penny in the bank. The experience, as objectionable as it was at the time, has put me in good stead throughout my life.

Bob worked hard all his life at his highest possible level of potential and that is a good lesson to follow. During his working years the economy had its ups and downs just like today. Through it all Bob’s vehicle to success was locksmithing and there is nothing stopping us from continuing his legacy.