What We Think


Elbow Grease

It had been at least fifteen minutes since my aunt left me alone in the bathroom. I could just make out David Bowie and Queen on the radio, but I was under way too much pressure to enjoy music. It was a hot, dirty Saturday morning, and that floor wasn’t going to clean itself.

It seemed like an eternity since my tongue-lashing and I still couldn’t find it. I had searched everywhere and was down to my last option. It was time to face the music. I reluctantly found my Aunt and admitted…

“I can’t find the elbow grease.”

She lit up. Laughed harder than I’d ever seen her laugh, and then laughed some more. When the tears dried, she explained the term “elbow grease” and demonstrated how the job should be done. In doing so, she gave me another great lesson in mentoring.

“Can’t we give ourselves one more chance? Why can’t we give love that one more chance?”
–D.Bowie & Queen

Working at Bullinger’s Pub was a rite of passage in my family. It was an honor. And with 42 first cousins, it taught me a lot. I learned I was replaceable. I learned when to laugh and when to get to work. I learned how to deal with difficult people, to be punctual, respectful and responsible … and early that Saturday morning, I learned humility.

The point I want to make is these early, dirty, humiliating experiences with repeated failure can provide priceless life skills. I credit these early jobs with giving me the confidence to do anything and to take pride in my work. Beliefs I still hold today.

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