Saturday, March 1, 2008

White Collar Man - Blue Collar Heart

White Collar Blue Collar
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Raised in a Steelworker's home and being the first in my family to go to college, I often find myself relying on my roots to help me through the challenges presented to me as a "manager of others."

I firmly believe that much of my success is a result of my blue collar upbringing. I was raised in a middle class home in east Baltimore. My father worked for Bethlehem Steel and my mother stayed home to raise the four of us; me and my three sisters. I joined the United States Army right out of high school to become an aviation mechanic, to serve my country, and to earn the money to go to college. I was blessed with an opportunity to attend The United States Military Academy at West Point and earn a degree in Leadership Psychology and a commission as a lieutenant of Field Artillery. Upon leaving the Army, and for the 18 years since, I have been a successful leader in the manufacturing industry and a white collar "manager of others."

Yesterday, I was reflecting on why I was successful. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. So hard, I had to write down a phrase that will, in all likelihood, become the title of my first book on leadership: White Collar Man - Blue Collar Heart. It defines what my success is based on. I have been blessed to have opportunities to do amazing things, but have never lost fact that all men are created equal.

My father once told me, as I considered going to college, to never forget where I came from and that every man puts his pants on one leg at a time. He wanted me to remember that respect was earned. Too often, "managers of others" lose sight of the fact that no one is beneath them and that, regardless of education, pay, or social status, we are all created equal.

Most of all, I think dad knew I needed to rely on my roots to be successful. I learned an awful lot from that man, without even realizing it. I'll bet, if you think about it, you did too.

Thanks, Dad.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Excellent way to think and behave. Another way to look at is that "there are no great people, just great opportunities". Acknowledging the fact you are blessed is the one of the most valuable blessings of all. I would follow you into battle any day!