“It’s not enough to have a dream, you have to have a work ethic.”
- Amanda Hocking, bestselling author
There was a famous series of Dunkin Donut commercials in the 80’s. The commercials showed a tireless worker getting up before dawn, stumbling out of bed, and going off to the donut shop muttering, “Time to make the donuts.” It became a catch phrase for anyone willing to get up and put in the necessary work to see their goals achieved. My hard working mother used to wake me up for school with the same catch phrase. She’d snap on the lights and tease, “Get up, time to make the donuts.”
Many people are big on dreams and short on getting up for the work ethic involved in achieving them. It makes for a lot of misery, self-doubt, and feelings of victimization. It could be said that if someone isn’t willing to work for their dreams they might be better off “playing it safe.” There’s nothing wrong with getting a safe job, making money, and retiring. If you are not willing to live with the uncertainty, lean times, and hard work of pursuing your dreams you could be setting yourself up for lifetime of misery attempting to do so. This might sound like “reverse psychology” (arguing for a negative outcome knowing it will be heard as a way to motivate someone)—but its not. There are “type B” personalities who do not want to go that extra mile. They may be content with a loving family life, a retirement account, and a sandy beach in old age. My cheerful, hard working mail woman was very happy to retire after thirty years of delivering envelopes. I could honestly say that she was generally happier than most people I know. One of my childhood heroes was my school bus driver who used to shout, “Look, flying mud turtles!” We’d all rush to the windows before he’d invariably say, “Oh, you missed them again.”
From a “time to make the donuts” perspective you have to raise the bar on your work ethic if you are going to achieve dreams. If he had an off night and lost, Kobe Bryant would go to a gym after the game and practice free throws. I was once in an airplane with the actor John C. Reilly. When I asked about his success he said he never thought about becoming famous as an actor, he just focused on being a working acting. I later had the opportunity to ask Laurence Fishburne the same question and got the same answer.
When someone is trying to achieve their dreams but does not put in the necessary work ethic they are often convinced that other people are “special”, “gifted”, “lucky”, or otherwise super natural. The truth is the people they are talking about were usually just more committed, harder working, and less entitled. They often have an all out work ethic and a do or die attitude about their dreams. Howard Stern interviewed Steven Van Zandt, the lead guitarist in Bruce Springsteen’s band. When Howard asked why Van Zandt didn’t give up and quit like his fellow band members he said, “I was all in. I never had a plan B. Those guys had other options.”
Many people who achieve their dreams had someone who believed in them on the road to success. That’s not a small thing. The crippling self-doubt that destroys work ethic can often be countered by a parent, a coach, a therapist, a friend, or anyone else who can stand by you and say, “Keep going, you can do it. I got your back.” Oprah credits her “best friend Gail” for being the only one who believed in her when she said she wanted to leave her news anchor job in Boston to try doing a small talk show in Chicago—up against Phil Donahue, the then undisputed king of talk TV. Without Gail’s encouragement Oprah might still be reading the news today. Have you seen those boxing movies when the boxer says to the coach, “I want to take this fight but I can’t do it without you.” (?) They aren’t kidding. Boxers without a coach are knocked out in the first round. There is a whole line of support people behind most success stories.
We all need someone in our corner when we fail, get up, and try again. The right attitude toward failure is a key component to successful donut making. When failure is “part of learning” it is helpful, as we all need to fail to learn. When it “means I’m a failure and I’ll never succeed” –we are lost and about to close shop, complaining about how Starbucks has taken all the donut business away (even though Starbucks doesn’t sell donuts).
Is it your “time to make the donuts”? If so achieving the necessary work ethic involved will be up to you, but support is available. Reach out, ask, get someone in your corner.
Below Peter Dinklage talks about work ethic, dreams, and the way to the next level: