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By Mark vonAppen

There is a difference you can find in those who stand apart from the crowd, those people of character who just seem to get it. The seemingly intangible quality that sets them apart is something completely tangible.  You can feel it when you touch a book, when you pick up a tool, or when you wipe your brow when it is slick from sweat.  It's called work, and it is the oft forgotten element on the journey to building, or rebuilding a culture.

How do you measure people?  How do you measure progress?  How do do you measure yourself? 


Too many times we give accolades for simply showing up.  Commendations are handed like participation ribbons.  We talk change, talk about improved performance, and we go no further. Changes are made by those who take action.  Activity should never be confused with achievement. Just because you exist doesn't mean you deserve.  The privilege of wearing the uniform and the gift of service is something that is earned, it's not a right.  Ask yourself, "Who's in there?"  

Do you remember what it took to get to where you are today?  Do you remember the promises that you made?  Do you remember who you said you'd always be?

Find that person again.  Remember how you used to measure yourself.

Do your job right because you said you would.  You said you'd do it forever that way.  Actions speak louder than words.  Just because you wear tights and a cape you haven't earned the right to be called a super hero.  Ask yourself, "Who's in there?" If you don't like the answer, take the first step toward change.

I want to do what I'm meant to do. When my career is over I want to be measured by the things that cannot be measured.

The uniform doesn't give you power or credibility, your actions do. We are what we repeatedly do. If we believe that excellence is our responsibility, and we strive for it day in and day out, then that is where we will go.  If we belly-ache and talk change, but are unable or unwilling to make the change in ourselves, then that will be our journey.  


The right to be proud and confident is one that is earned over a career of hard work, dedication, of attempts and failures.  Excellence isn't easily achieved.  In the same way, neither is confidence. Confidence is hard-won and fleeting.  We are expected to be larger than life creations that defy natural laws and are the very image of all that is right.  The fact is, we're human.  We are full of faults, shortcomings, and insecurities.   To overcome these we must be tireless in the pursuit of our ideal.  We cannot do it alone.

The importance of holding one another accountable cannot be understated.  Accountability is a discipline.  We have to do it for the person next to us.  We'll do it on our own for each other.  We'll do it on our own together.

When everything else has faded away, nobody will remember statistics, they'll remember the person inside the uniform.  If you're not living up to who you said you'd always be, you will be at a costume party for 30 years and you'll be quickly forgotten.   

I want to do what I'm meant to do.  I want to do what I'm not supposed to do, I want to care.  I want to do what makes people feel.  When my career is over I want to be measured by the things that cannot be measured.

I want to look back and say, "I did my job."

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