What DO You Get To Do Today?, Part II

By Chuck Violand

July 30, 2018

In Part I of this series, I shared an experience from my early work career about a co-worker, Duncan Hardin, who taught me some invaluable life lessons that have stayed with me to this day. I thank my lucky stars for having Duncan’s path cross mine at such a young age. His enthusiasm was infectious, but there was way more to Duncan than met the eye.

Duncan’s second day on the job started the same way as the first—with him bouncing through the front door asking, “Hi fellas! What do we GET to do today?” This time, I didn’t see Duncan as an elf like I did the day before. I simply saw him as a co-worker. When I told him we were doing a virtual repeat of the prior day in the same model of house, he smiled and whispered to me “Hey, let’s see if we can beat yesterday’s time by half an hour!” And we did.

What’s important to understand is that we were paid on a piece-work basis, not by the hour. So, technically, the faster we completed a job, the more per hour we earned. Getting back to the shop early allowed me to clean out my truck, load up for the next day, and get home early to spend time with my 1-year-old daughter.

The following day, when Duncan popped through the door with his now normal greeting and question of “Hi fellas! What do we GET to do today?”, I didn’t see an elf or a co-worker. I saw a giant. This time, Duncan said, “We’re never going to beat yesterday’s time, but let’s do this—if we match it, I’m buying lunch.”

As Duncan and I were sitting in the restaurant having lunch, he told me about the stuff he loved in life. Duncan wasn’t married and he didn’t have kids. He had a Golden Retriever named Buddy and a passion for fly fishing. After work each day, Duncan would load up Buddy and his kayak and go fishing. And I think Duncan invented the selfie. He had a camera mounted on his kayak with a remote shutter release that he activated every time he hooked a fish. When he got the fish close to the kayak, he would release the hook from its mouth, thank the fish for the competition, and let it go.

Before long, we caught up with the backlog of work. Duncan went back to his regular job, and Jim and I began working together again. But now, it was different. Every morning I would walk into the shop and say, “Hey Jim! What do we GET to do today?”

Duncan didn’t make me a better carpet layer in the technical aspects. He didn’t show me better ways to lay out carpet in a house or show me any shortcuts. But Duncan taught me that my attitude about work could make all the difference. To this day, I start each morning asking myself, “What do I GET to do today?”

While every day isn’t filled with only pleasant tasks that need completing, and some days involve work I’d rather not do, it’s this little change in my attitude that makes a huge difference in my performance.

Perhaps your personal brand could become more valuable with just a small change in attitude. Try asking yourself, “What do I GET to do today?” and see what happens.