The Value of Hard Work

Coming of Age in a New Economy

by Jack Whittington, J.D. Candidate,2011

We undoubtedly live in a society of instant gratification. We want it, and we want it now. In a lot of ways that’s the problem with our society, very few want to work hard to get ahead any more. We live in a country where you can achieve instant fame for seemingly nothing (see: Jersey Shore cast). As I look around and assess where I’m headed in life, I would say a fair amount of my peers have not a clue what it means to put in hard work. However, there still are some like myself that fully understand the value of hard work and these will be the people that will lead our generation into better times.

As I noted in my introduction post for SPU, I was raised on a small farm in southeast Texas by my grandparents. My parents divorced when I was six-years-old and my mother worked full time as a nurse, so my grandparents helped shoulder the load. Life on the farm was tough and hard work was a must. I had chores to do and they were expected to be done everyday, period. My chores included helping out feeding and watering the pigs, chickens, goats, calves, unloading the feed truck and anything else that needed to be done on that particular day. My grandfather was the type of man who could just look at you and put the fear of God in you – I wasn’t about to shirk my duties. I didn’t have everything I wanted growing up, but I had all I needed and I was happy. Growing up I thought my family was middle class (most people do, I think) but when I got to college I realized that we were definitely working class.

Now that I reflect upon it, I realize just how fortunate I am to be in the position that I am in today. I am the first in my family to have gone to a major state university and I am the first to have attended graduate school. The journey has not been easy, and I can’t say I did it on my own either. My grandparents played a huge role in shaping me into to the person I am today. They loved one another unconditionally. I now realize it was such a blessing to have lived in a loving family.  My mother was and is still my biggest fan. She has always encouraged me to get out and see the world, to live life to the fullest. Mom is a very intelligent person; she graduated at the top of her class from high school but also knew she couldn’t afford college so she married young. That was just what you did back then in this part of the world.  She didn’t want me to make the same choices that she did in life.  She always told me to “go for it” even when I had the loftiest of goals. Simply put, she believed in me when the world was against me and she still does.

As important as they are to me and as much impact as they have had on me, my fiancée, Daina, has had just as big of influence on me.  Daina and I met the summer before our senior year of high school and we have been together for nearly eight years now. We went to college at Texas Tech University together and we are both now in law school at the University of Tulsa. We could not be more different if we tried. She says red, I say blue. I say right, she says left. I like action movies, she likes chick flicks – get the picture? But in the end, I firmly believe that we are together for a very specific reason. We help each other to become better people. The thing that binds us together more than anything, in my opinion, is that we both believe that we were put on this earth to make a fundamental difference in the world. Now I’m not talking about political aspirations or fame or fortune, we just both believe that we have a duty to give back and help others who are less fortunate than us. We share the same goals for one another and want the same things in life for our family going forward. That goal and vision keeps us going. We never let one another give up when we otherwise would have if we didn’t have the other to lean on when things get rough. Now I’m sure the cynic looks at us and says ‘well you have to pay back not one but two law school student loans, good luck with that’. That’s true, with both of us in college and now law school we will walk into a marriage with an enormous amount of personal debt. We both have the work ethic, drive, and determination to be successful within the legal field and that ultimately our careers will provide a better life for us and our future children. Paying off the loans will not be an easy task, but it’s not impossible either. It’s a sacrifice we were both willing to make.

Going forward, sure, I’m concerned about the job market, preparing to take the Texas Bar in July next year, where we are going to live, how we are going to be able to afford living accommodations and the expenses of a wedding. But life isn’t easy. I know that. There was nothing easy about farm work. There was nothing easy about working part time jobs and going to school in undergrad and there is certainly nothing easy about juggling so many things at once in law school (judicial clerkship, moot court, career search, involvement in Student Bar Association, blog). But I relish the challenge; it’s what keeps me motivated. I have never expected anyone to hand me anything. Everything I have, I have because I worked for it. Entitlement has no bearing with me. I don’t get the people that just expect everything to be handed to them, in my mind what would be the point? It is the rewarding sense of accomplishment that drives me as an individual and keeps me working towards the next goal.

At the age of 24 I have already achieved some of my own personal goals that I have had since childhood. Ever since I was a kid I’ve always dreamed of going to Europe. This past summer I accomplished that dream. I was fortunate enough to have spent four weeks in Ireland and two weeks in Switzerland on a study abroad program through my law school – the memories I have of that trip will stay with me forever. The fact that someone from my background got that opportunity is staggering when you think about. I cannot express how fortunate I am to have gotten that opportunity.

My other childhood dream was to become an attorney, ever since I can remember I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. In May of 2011, I will receive my Juris Doctorate and hopefully in approximately a year from now, I will be able to call myself a lawyer. I know that won’t come easy. I know a lot of blood, sweat, and tears will be shed between now and then. But I’ve never been afraid of hard work and know I can do anything I put my mind to. I just look how far I’ve already come. I can’t wait until the day that a judge calls me “counselor” in court. That will have made everything more than worth it.

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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3 comments on “The Value of Hard Work

    • “Hard work” has become a bit too cliche, I believe – anytime anyone does anything remotely difficult its “hard work” supposedly. What I’m driving at is “hard work” is more than just doing something that is difficult – it’s about making the sacrifices and choices necessary in life to get to where you want to be even though you know the odds are against you every step of the way.

      Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!

  • Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Hard work is the preparation part. Get used to it. Law school is nothing compared to the real world. Successful litigation will require mental endurance. Swimming with sharks is a little different from shovelling manure.

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