In Praise of Hard Work

Posted: Jun 07, 2001 12:00 AM
Why don't they preach what they practice? Non-conservatives dominate the mainstream media. In the media magazine Content, a poll showed that nearly 75 percent of Republicans found a liberal bias in the media, while nearly 50 percent of Democrats found the press "more liberal" than they were! ABC news correspondent, reporter and commentator Sam Donaldson attracts criticism for what some perceive as his bias against limited government, self-help type politicians. In his autobiography, "Hold on Mr. President," Sam Donaldson said in covering Ronald Reagan in 1984, he sought to "smoke the candidate himself out of hiding and into the public debate." But what philosophy governs Donaldson's own life? Answer: Hard work. In an Investor's Business Daily profile, Donaldson outlined his personal philosophy of success, "You always want to work a little ahead of your level, if you can. Otherwise you don't advance ... You have to work harder than the next person. You have to take the dirty jobs ... You have to work on the weekends and you have to work nights; you have to get up at 2 o'clock in the morning." , Donaldson, whose mother sent the then undisciplined young man off to military school, said he outworked those more intelligent and more handsome. "I learned a couple of things there," Donaldson said. "One, that it's better to be with the winners than the losers. And second, that everybody needs to understand something about discipline." Donaldson's news colleague, Dan Rather of CBS's "Evening News," recently ran a story about a black man living in a homeless shelter with an 18-month-old son. The homeless man, Chris Gardner, saw another man pull up in a beautiful red Ferrari. "What do you do (for a living)?" asked Gardner. Stockbroker, came the reply. According to Rather, "For 10 months, Chris banged on every door in the San Francisco financial district until he convinced Dean Witter to take a chance on a high school dropout. But what nobody knew was that after some bad breaks and worse decisions, he was living in a homeless shelter with his 18-month-old son." And now? "The man who was once homeless," said the Rather piece, "now has four homes, and who had only the clothes on his back, revels in what he calls his 'clothes issue.' And he bought that Ferrari." Still, Gardner reminds us that it's not about the money. "Chris Gardner says that the biggest charge isn't the money or the things it can buy," said Rather, "it's what he calls making it happen, and knowing that with nothing but his wits and the resourcefulness he learned on the streets, he could make it happen again." Hard work, self-confidence, tenacity and focus. In 1962, Ebony, the black monthly magazine, ran a series called "If I Were Young Today." One month the magazine featured Paul Williams, the black so-called "architect to the stars," who also designed the famous theme building at Los Angeles International Airport. Williams, certified as an architect in 1915, faced difficulty finding work given his race. How did a black architect in that era land that first job? Williams said, "I made a list of 25 architects from the telephone book, which I arranged in sequence to location. I made the tour, and after each visit, I made a notation as to whether the answer was 'no' or 'maybe next week' and whether it was said with a smile or a frown. If it was with a smile, I would return next week with some of my sketches ... That week I received three offers for a job with salaries ranging from three dollars a week down to nothing per week, but letting me work as office boy. This was the job I accepted because they were important architects in the city. To my surprise, they broke their contract the very first week and paid me a salary of three dollars." Recall the remarkable story of Oseola McCarty. For 75 years, neighbors watched as the black Mississippi woman worked from early in the morning to sunset -- washing and ironing clothes by hand in her backyard. When McCarty retired, she left a scholarship fund for the University of Southern Mississippi, in the amount of $150,000! Hard work. Not making excuses. Refusing to blame others. Appreciation of this country's rule of law and its free enterprise system, along with a willingness to accept the consequences of one's own actions. Or, as our ex-homeless-man turned stockbroker, who now runs a multimillion-dollar firm, put it, "If all of this were to crash tomorrow, I'd get up the next day and get back at it. I've been there, OK? The worst thing in the world that can happen has already happened. What's next?" Affirmative action, meet affirmative attitude. It's about courage, right, Mr. Rather?