At twelve years old I didn’t have a good attitude. I didn’t understand input, output and reward. On this particular day I had a bad attitude. It was normal for this day every year. As a young boy who loved to play there were other things I would rather be doing. Work around the house was not for me.
Every Spring my Dad and I would go out on our half acre and clean up the property after the Winter storms. There were always many tree limbs and sometimes fallen trees. We did not have a chain saw and I had to chop all the limbs and trees with an axe.
It was very hard work. And here was the worst part. My Dad always picked the first nice weekend day in Spring when all of my other friends were out playing. Oh, did I mention, I hated chopping wood. And once we finished chopping and stacking the wood we had to rake the yard.
This particular Spring day was no different than in past years. I wanted to play with my friends and here I was in work prison. This particular morning the more I thought about my predicament the angrier I got.
As we started to work that morning I took my anger out on those tree limbs and trees. I worked hard. I worked well. And I worked fast. In fact, what normally took all day was finished before lunch.
My Dad and I sat down for lunch. My mother and sister were off doing some shopping. Dad was really happy. He kept repeating how proud of me he was and how pleased he was that the work he thought would take all day was finished early.
All I could think about was my missed play time. Then he asked me a question. Steve, I really appreciate how quickly you helped me get everything done. How would you like to go to the home opener of the New York Yankees baseball season.
I remember being stunned. We didn’t have a lot of money. This was not part of the usual routine. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. That afternoon we drove down to Yankee stadium. I had a great time with my Dad. The anger of the morning about not getting to play with my friends had been replaced by joy of going to a major league baseball game with my Dad in the afternoon.
As we were driving home from a day I still remember with great fondness my Dad told me a story. He was still talking about how I had thrown myself into my work. He was telling me that because of my attitude that good things happened that day.
The story was about a man who was sitting in a cold house in the middle of Winter. This house had a wood stove to heat the house. The man sat in the house yelling at the stove, “Give me the heat. Then I will give you the wood.”
Dad told me that too many people go through life like the man. They demand things out of life without being committed to putting much into it. The lesson was not lost on me. At times when I don’t feel like doing a little bit more I remember the wonderful day with my Dad and the story.
You have to put something in before you get something back out. Satisfaction, success and happiness in business and life are about your input, output and reward.
Oh by the way, the next Spring I was ready. We finished before noon and went to another Yankee’s game.