Thursday, June 4, 2020

Dutifully Doing the Dirty Work of SAL

Today I taught my seven and five year old one of the most important lessons anyone can ever learn in life: how to scrub a toilet and clean a bathroom.

Perhaps I am overstating the point a bit, but hear me out...

All my life, I have been a believer in the power of scrubbing toilets and cleaning bathrooms. There is nothing quite so satisfying as beholding a beautiful baƱo that sparkles, shines, and smells good by virtue of my own willed effort, detailed focus, and gritty elbow grease.

Likewise, there is nothing quite so rewarding as progressing in your life and career in ways that decrease the likelihood that you'll have to clean bathrooms if you don't want to! You see, the beauty of SAL is that it empowers you to do the dirty work of life so well that eventually you won't have to do much dirty work anymore.

Due in part to my OCD, I am VERY GOOD at cleaning bathrooms. And narcissistic though the following sentiment may be, I have always been convinced that there is something special about someone who can do the same. Perhaps it is because my personal experiences have taught me that most people avoid cleaning the bathroom at almost all costs, and even when forced to finally address the problem, tend to do a subpar job of it. And "cleaning the bathroom" here can also serve as a metaphor for any dirty, grimy, and difficult, but necessary work that must be done at home or at work.

This annoying fact of collective humanity was a perpetual annoyance for me growing up, and more particularly as a young unmarried man in college and beyond where I was always more willing and capable of cleaning a bathroom than any of my roommates. As such, you can guess who ended up doing the dirty work of cleaning the bathroom most often—especially at the end of a semester prior to a landlord's inspection.

Although I confess this fact about my fellows spawned some bitterness in my young heart, there was also something inside of me continually whispering that in the long run, karma would be kind to people with such will and determination to do what had to be done, no matter how unpleasant. I was further inspired by the wisdom of Thomas Huxley, who once wrote:

"The most valuable result of all education is to make you do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned. And however early a man [or woman's] training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he [or she] learns thoroughly."

Over the years, I have occasionally met individuals who are truly SAL superstars when it comes to cleaning bathrooms—and I am always impressed and heartened when I do. One especially salient example is my good friend, Kari Ginn. Years ago, I attended the same church congregation as Kari and her husband Kirk and their beautiful family. Kirk was the congregational leader at the time, making Kari a high profile member as well. One Saturday morning, I arrived at the home of a member of our congregation to assist other members in packing up the family's belongings for a move.

As I walked through the home, I observed who was there and what they were doing. Some were participating more actively than others, but I'll never forget who I saw on her hands and knees vigorously scrubbing the shower floor in the bathroom. It was Kari. Of all the women in the congregation, you would think Kari should have been exempt from such lowly labor. Yet SHE was the one setting the ultimate example for the rest of us. That image of Kari humbly kneeling to attend to the dirty work that nobody else wanted to do was a priceless picture of pure, honest, and unpaid service on behalf of another. I will never forget it. And I'll bet the Ginn's bathrooms were probably among the cleanest in the neighborhood.

Like it or not—and none of us much like it—LIFE is filled with dirty, grimy, and messy work (both physically and metaphysically speaking) that must be attended to if we desire to live happy, successful, and prosperous lives. It has been my experience—both personally and from observing others—that those who enjoy the most happiness and peace of mind in the long-run are the ones who most proactively tackle the dirty jobs in life in the short-run. Such people are personifications of Self-Action Leadership.

And the cool part is that over time, their efforts are rewarded in a variety of ways—including having to do less and less of the dirty work themselves. This reward comes about in part because those individuals are usually the ones who become leaders and managers, who, of necessity must delegate most of the dirty work to others. Although it should be noted that the GREATEST LEADERS are the ones who never rise so high that they cannot stoop down to "scrub a toilet" (literally or figuratively) if the occasion requires it. Moreover, such leaders are quick to jump in and model for others how such work should be done as needed. Tomorrow I will publish another blog post that shares the story of two highly successful executives (Stirling D. Pack, Ph.D., and the late Hyrum W. Smith) who exemplified this principle in their own high profile organizations.  

The rewards can also come because one's own personal financial situation improves to the point where he or she can pay others to do some of the dirty work for them. I confess that as Lina's and my financial status has progressed over time, we have hired professional cleaners in the past, and we will undoubtedly do so in the future as well. 

But that doesn't mean we won't still teach our kids how to scrub a toilet and clean a bathroom til it sparkles—so they'll know how to do it when they go out on their own. Fortunately, our brief stint in Carlsbad probably won't include professional cleaners, opening up a perfect opportunity for me to teach my kids—my primary profession until Freedom Focused finally takes off—this most important of life lessons, and provide them with a chance to practice it until they possess the skill themselves.

Carlsbad, New Mexico
Thursday, June 4, 2020 

Click HERE to read the Foreword & Afterword to the SAL Textbooks, written by Christopher P. Neck, Ph.D., and David G. Anthony, Ed.D.

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