• Bill Petrie

The Lesson of the Lunch Pail and Hard Hat

Are you doing the work that's necessary to create - and sustain - success?

Many of you know that I had the unfortunate luck of rupturing my left Achilles during the PPAI Winter Expo in Las Vegas in 2015. If you want to read my blog about the entire event and the healing process, you can do that here. This week as I was able to put on shorts for the first time, I took a look at the scar, which brought me back both the injury and, more importantly, the healing process.

To say it was an interesting journey would be an understatement. I’ve been athletic my entire life, and I’ve been fortunate never to have experienced an injury more severe than a pulled muscle, sprained ankle, or pinched nerve. Going from full mobility to handicapped in the snap of a finger was a far different experience. I have seen athletes (Dan Marino and the late Kobe Bryant come to mind) suffer the same injury, and it was always described the same way: devastating. I also knew that the recovery time was six months to a year. Read that last sentence again: six months to a year. Devastating is absolutely the correct word to describe a complete Achilles rupture.

While I was inwardly crushed about the injury, I also resolved to do the work necessary to recover fully. It was hard to ignore as my physical therapist would greet me by saying, “I hope you brought your lunch pail and hard hat because you’re going to work!” He wasn’t kidding. During my time at physical therapy, I had to do the following:

  • Listen to my body (I don’t think I understood the difference between “sore” and “pain” until this process)

  • Physically work harder than I ever have (and it was difficult beyond words)

  • Learn to walk again (this one surprised me, but I did have to learn to walk again)

Because I did the hard work, the results were astonishing: I was released by the doctor a month ahead of schedule and released by the therapists three weeks ahead of schedule. It wasn’t because I have some secret to success; I was released early because I respected the process and did the work that needed to be done.

There is a parallel to this tale and the work we do every day as marketing and sales professionals. People are always seeking a shortcut to success which rarely delivers on the promise. These people don’t metaphorically bring lunch pail or a hard hat to the office.

During therapy, I had numerous opportunities to cheat when the physical therapist told me to do 20 reclining squats on one leg. But I did 20 – every single time. I did so because that was the ONLY way I could fully recover. There was no shortcut to getting my mobility back, and there’s no shortcut to business success either.

Bring your lunch pail and hard hat to the office every day and do the work – especially the work that’s difficult. When you take the easier path – the one that promises great success for a fraction of the effort – you shortchange yourself and your clients. You also will generally find yourself back to where you started, but now behind the people know that the only secret to long-lasting success is doing the hard work.

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