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Usually when you come across two men in the woods with a hammer, it’s a cause for concern, especially if your hands aren’t weapons like mine. But that Saturday afternoon my dad and I didn’t stumble across something dangerous—we stumbled across something awesome.
There, in a small clearing of a large park near our house in Atlanta, was another father and son. The father, who I think had a beard—because I add beards to a lot of people in my memories—was holding a long signpost. His teenage son stood above him, slowly hammering the post into a hole they had dug in the hard soil.
Turns out they weren’t burying a body (but thanks for that automatic assumption, CBS). They were building signs for the Frisbee golf course. The holes were scattered about the park and hard to find if you didn’t know the course well. So one by one, hole by hole, this dynamic duo was marking the way with eighteen different signs.
The father looked up as we walked up to them. Without letting go of the post, he explained, “My son is getting his Eagle Scout badge. This sure beats building another park bench.” Then he grinned a big (bearded?) smile and got back to work.
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I’m not an Eagle Scout, but I remember growing up with a kid who was. I remember my mom kind of pitching me the idea by telling me about the project that had pushed him over the edge and sealed the deal with the Eagle Scout badge committee. Guess what he did?
He cleaned and repainted the fire hydrants in my town.
Now, it’s possible that he had a deep passion for fire hydrants. Maybe his dad was a fire hydrant man. His dad’s dad was a fire hydrant man. Hydrants were in his blood. But chances are good that he didn’t love them.
Chances are, he thought earning the honor of being an Eagle Scout meant doing something awful. He had to be a martyr and do the thing no “regular” boy would do.
Sometimes we come to the same conclusion as adults. We sit in cubicles we don’t like at jobs we don’t love. For years and years we buy the lie that “it’s just a job.” The truth is that anything you do for 40 hours a week isn’t just a job—it’s your life. It matters.
As you think about your life and search through the things you’re passionate about, don’t build a park bench if you secretly love Frisbee. Don’t buy the lie that changing the world has to be a chore or make you miserable. Be brave enough to have fun with whatever you decide to focus on in your life.
More than 80% of Americans want to quit their job. Only about 1% will do something about it. Dare to be awesome.
Excerpt from The New York Times best-seller START by Jon Acuff.