Work Like A Man…
Hey Everybody. Welcome to Being A Better Man, I am your host and my name is Alf Herigstad. We are not trying to change the world here…we are just trying to change your world, one day at a time. The whole idea is that if we can get a bunch of guys to commit to just being a better man today than they were yesterday—then the world will be a slightly better place. You don’t have to be great, you don’t even have to be good…you only have to be better than you were yesterday. I think everybody can do that. Anyways, I’m glad you are listening today.
In these past 214 episode I don’t think I have ever dedicated an episode to sheer, old fashioned manual labor. I’m a little surprised by that because manual labor has been such a big part of my life. In fact I spent all day today doing just that here on our farm.
My definition of manual labor is when you are doing something physical, it becomes uncomfortable, and you keep on doing it until you finish the task you set out to do.
Correct me if I’m wrong, please…but it seems to me like there are a lot of guys nowadays that spend a lot of energy trying to avoid manual labor at all costs. Yes, I’m speaking to the younger crowd today primarily, guys that are 40 and younger. Believe it or not, there are a lot of guys that actually do not know how to work hard. It sounds weird to say it, but it’s true. Working hard at a physical task is actually a skill that must be learned.
I’m not talking to guys that are physically disabled, or handicapped in any way. You guys already know what it’s like to work hard because you do it every day of your lives. I’m talking to everyone else.
Life is so easy in these modern times, and people are trained that when something becomes hard or uncomfortable, it’s time to stop. I’m talking about part of your body starts hurting, or you start sweating, or you get tired. When these things happen a lot of guys just stop working, because that is what life has trained them to do.
I know what I’m talking about because I have seen it first hand. I was a fencing contractor for a number of years and the hardest thing I had to deal with was finding good people to work for me. It’s hard work, building fences. You have to dig a lot of holes and carry lots of heavy stuff. You have to move big wheelbarrows full of concrete. Finding guys that could do this all day with me, was my biggest challenge.
I tried hiring the biggest most strapping guys I could, but it didn’t matter. No matter how big and strong they were, the fact was they didn’t know how to work hard. I’m a big guy myself at 6’2”, 250 pounds, and I have had guys bigger than me and a lot younger that could not drive a wheelbarrow full of cement. I had to take over for them. I had to do the job I hired them to do because they simply didn’t know how to work. It was frustrating, but now I’m looking at it through a whole different lens.
I didn’t understand it back then but now I’m starting to realize that there are a lot of guys who, through no fault of their own, have simply not had the opportunity or occasion to learn how to actually work hard. To work until it hurts. I’m not just talking about working at a job, it could be working in your own back yard or helping a neighbor.
You might be listening to this and think it doesn’t apply to you because you are a white color professional, or plan to be. Maybe you were raised in a culture that said working hard was for those poor stiffs that couldn’t do anything else. I have news for you…that is not an accurate point of view.
I think as a species, we developed in such a way that when we actually spend a day working hard, working past the point of discomfort and working through pain. When we spend a day accomplishing something with the strength of our bodies we are rewarded with a unique sense of satisfaction that cannot come from any other source. It releases endorphins that make you feel awesome. I think, a special kind of endorphin you can’t get anywhere else.
I have had some hellasish days in my life. Days where I wore the skin off of my hands until they were bleeding and I was on the verge of passing out from fatigue. Day’s where I vomited from the strain and then kept on working. I did it though, and I survived. I kept on living and I believe I am a better man for having that experience.
The reason I think this is important for guys who want to be better men is because having the skill to work hard when you need to, is vital. You won’t have this skill unless you develop it. I think it is one of those things that are uniquely masculine. To engage in some physical act, to work through pain and discomfort without complaining…that’s manly, period.
I’ll tell you a little story, I was on a fence job one time. It was a pretty big residential wood fence and we had to also tear down the old fence. I had like four guys working for me that day and we were busting ass to try and get the old fence tore down and all the new posts set. If we didn’t get them all set then that would add a whole other day to the job, and throw all the upcoming jobs off by one day as well.
It was a hot day in the summertime. About 2:00 we were about 2/3 done and one of the guys came up to me and said, “Hey Alf, I ran out of gas. I called someone to come and pick me up, sorry man.”
I couldn’t believe it. It made me so angry I couldn’t even look at this guy after that. To this day when I think of him I don’t think of him as a man. I think of him as a half man. Every single one of us were tired and sore and hot and tired of working that day, but he just quit. He quit on all of us which meant we would have to work that much longer to get the job done.
There was another job I was on where my 75 year old dad came out to help, and he outworked all the 20 somethings I had working for me at the time—it was embarrassing.
I’m sure there are guys listening that know how to work like a man, good for you, I’m glad you have that skill. I’m also sure there are guys listening that have never learned how, either because they never had an example or they never had an opportunity.
My recommendation, is that if you have never spent a day toiling in pain and discomfort and kept working anyways. If you have never gone beyond your physical limits in order to finish something. Then that is what you need to do. You need to find a way, or invent a way, or something. Find some way to test yourself physically. You need to find an opportunity where you can push yourself beyond your usual limits. If you do this, you will be rewarded with a huge sense of self satisfaction and pride in what you have done. It will make you a better man.
That’s all I got for today guys. Hey if you get something out of this show I ask that you go to my Patreon page and check it out. It will give you an opportunity to support the show and the message, by pledging as little or as much as you want each month. You don’t have to go crazy, every little bit helps. There is a link to it below.
Hey thanks for tuning in today, I really appreciate it. Now go out there into the big world and find some way to work hard. After you do that there will be no doubt that you are a better man today than you were yesterday.