“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
A year or two ago, our CEO Henry Patel shared with me a story from his childhood in India. His grandfather had a farm that Henry worked on, and Henry would rise well before the sun to go care for his grandfather’s livestock. One day, Henry finished caring for the animals and told his grandfather that he was done with his work. His grandfather told him that there was still more work to do. Henry was surprised, as he had done everything he had been directed to do with the animals. How was Henry to know what other work there was and how to do it? The wise grandfather replied, “The field will tell you what to do.”
What Henry’s grandfather meant by this was an important life lesson—There’s always more we can do, but there won’t always be someone available to tell you what that is or how to do it. It is incumbent on each of us to look out at the metaphorical field and observe what needs done. Henry had completed his initial task—caring for the animals—but he could expand his impact by learning to observe for himself what else needed accomplished on the farm. He could also learn by doing.
How does this story tie in to today’s quote? Our president, Matt Graves, shared a similar story. On the first day at one of his jobs, he was shown to his cubicle. And that was it. For two weeks he sat there and no one came by to show him what to do. Matt had a couple options. He could sit there, and when someone asked why he hadn’t done anything, he could say that no one showed him what to do. Or, Matt could look around and see what he could do on his own. The effect was that Matt took it upon himself to figure out what needed done and taught himself how to succeed.
Henry and Matt each learned what Teddy Roosevelt captured in his quote—get busy and find out how to do it. They learned early on how to adopt a “can do” attitude. A lot of the time in life, we wait for someone to tell us what to do or how to do it. We also miss out on opportunities because we think we can’t do something. Slow down, look around and see what needs doing. Then find out how to do it.
Take a look at your metaphorical work “field”. What needs done? Is it something you could find out how to do? When someone asks if you can do something, how do you respond? How else might you interpret and apply this quote?