‘Opportunity looks a lot like hard work’
Aug 27, 2013 | 7680 views | 0 0 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As someone who is really not an Ashton Kutcher fan or devotee, it might seem somewhat odd that I’m quoting him for this “Viewpoint” promoting workforce development.

In fact, I’ve never watched a single TV show or movie with him as the lead role. I happened to discover this comment by accident posted on Facebook from his recent appearance at the “Teen Choice Awards” (another show I can proudly say I’ve never seen).

It was during this appearance that he also revealed for the first time his real first name is actually “Chris.” But what really caught my attention were his comments on the importance and relevance of hard work.

“I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work,” Kutcher told the teen audience. “When I was 13, I had my first job with my dad carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job at a factory sweeping Cheerios dust off the ground.”

Kutcher proceeded to explain his attitude toward work.

“And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than,” he offered. “I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a steppingstone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

OK, now I’m an Ashton … I mean, Chris Kutcher fan. I can relate with you, Chris Ashton Kutcher.

At 12, I caught small pet green turtles from the local lake and sold them to Woolworth’s for a quarter each. I started caddying at the Old Hickory Country Club (and no, we were not members) when I was 14. In the summer, my friend and I would mow yards for $3. That meant $1.50 each. I was flipping burgers at the local “Burger Boy” fast food restaurant at 16, and went on to advance my career in the illustrious dietary department of the local hospital soon afterwards.

Since then, I’ve been a surgical scrub technician for open heart surgeons, a veinopuncturist and a lab technician. Of course, there was the 32-year career that followed these grand experiments spent in the pharmaceutical industry.

But I agree with Chris. These early years, pre-college jobs were just steppingstones. They weren’t all permanent, glamorous, high-paying, enviable jobs. But they did more than just earn spending money. They taught me the value of a strong work ethic, taking personal responsibility and how to pay my own way.

I liken these jobs to having a ticket on the bus leading to another place, another town, a different view in life. This is a phrase I’ve coined and often share with young people (including my two boys) struggling in a career or job they despise or have doubts about.

Keep working; stay in school or skills training programs; and continue sharpening your skills, or learning new ones.

The bus is moving, rolling along, and you’re on board as long as you are employed or are in school. Maybe you’re in a place you don’t want to be. Stay on board the bus and it will soon move to another location, the place of opportunity. The “employment” school bus is traveling toward more opportunity, different vistas and varied experiences which all help build a stronger resume. The bus ride is preparing you for a better job, higher pay and career moves you can’t anticipate at the moment.

At a minimum, bad experiences or unpleasant jobs will not be wasted. They will give you the maturity and wisdom to make better decisions in the future.

Chris is right: “Opportunity looks a lot like hard work.”

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(Editor’s Note: This guest “Viewpoint” was written and submitted by Rick Creasy, director of Workforce Development at Cleveland State Community College.)