My son Noah calls me every day as he leaves work to sort of download the day, get things off his chest, tell me about work problems, talk things over. The salient part of that experience for me is to see how important it is to him that he does a good job. He really cares about that. To him, his job is more than just work, it is a vital part of his very existence and to not do it well is anathema to him!
Where did that come from? He has often been asked why he understands so much about management, since he is a chef–and some of them are much more cooking oriented than management oriented. He tells them that he grew up watching his mom run a business, watching his dad work really hard as a salesman, watching his grandparents work really hard running a highly respected medical practice.
Noah grew up around people who loved to work! And he does too.
When he was growing up, he didn’t like it so much that we were “always working” because often he wanted attention that he didn’t get. I can remember so many times I had to tell him to wait until I got off the phone to talk to me. I wasn’t a completely horrible mother–I went to every baseball, soccer and basketball game that I possibly could attend. I carried a folding chair in my trunk so I could go to a game at the drop of a hat.
But there were many things I didn’t do because I was working, and I know he didn’t like it. But he learned to live with it and became a very independent guy. One of the reasons he became a chef is because he figured out there were some things (like sauteed chicken) that he could prepare much better than I could! He started cooking with me when he was 2 and by the time he was 8 or 9 he was really good in the kitchen.
Now he is proud of his background–with perspective, he sees the value of all that work and how it influenced him. And I have a feeling that his son Ethan will have a similar experience. As long as Noah is the Executive Chef of a very busy, popular restaurant, he will work most Saturdays and Sundays–Ethan won’t have his dad at every sporting event. Ethan will probably resent that for a period of time, until it comes time to go to work himself, then I can imagine that Ethan will have a similar work ethic as his father.
So the Legend will live on, and be passed on from generation to generation. My dad’s father came to America from Russia around 1907 and first drove a wagon peddling clothes around the countryside. Then he ran clothing stores with his brothers. My dad worked in the stores, and learned how important it was to write up a proper sales slip. Later, he was one of the few doctors whose instructions could be easily read on a chart or a prescription.
Work ethic. Is it dying out? Or is it alive and well? I believe both. Those who didn’t have Living Legends to learn from, model themselves after, will either have to learn it on the job or miss out on the fun of a job well done.
As for my little family tree, I bet it will remain alive and well for many generations to come.