Dirt under fingernails a sign of accomplishment

If a situation was going to have a resolution, someone was going to have to get their hands dirty.

I was cleaning up for dinner after a beautiful spring day, and I noticed I had lots of dirt under my fingernails. That is always a sign that I have actually been doing something. Most days I find myself pounding out stories on my laptop and that only involves two fingers. My hands certainly don’t get dirty digging thoughts out of my head and transplanting them onto paper.

I had cleaned out some flower beds, getting rid of weeds and some other stuff that might have been weeds — but it also could have been something I paid good money for at the garden centre last year. Regardless, it all looked a lot better.

That always seems to be the case. Making your yard or your life look better usually involves hard work, and sometimes you have to get your hands dirty.  But at the end of the day, looking over the results of hard work makes it all worthwhile.

In my early years, working in a heavy duty tire shop, my hands were seldom clean. Gunning tires off gravel trucks or semis or repairing large gashes in tractor or loader tires meant that my hands were always covered in grease, mud and other things I’d rather forget.

I seldom wore gloves as they usually just got in the way. Consequently, I made many trips to Dr. Gilham’s office for a stitch here or there in almost every finger. Sometimes, if he had time, he would freeze it first, but usually he just told me to hold my breath and sewed it up. He then told his nurse to give a tetanus shot. Then it was back to work.

Then there were my years on the fire department. There was never a clean fire. In the volunteer years, I was often leaving the fire scene, covered in soot, and heading back to work at the tire shop.

But in each case, when that truck hit the road with a new set of tires, the farmer headed back to the hay field or the fire was out, there was a feeling of satisfaction of a job well done, no matter how dirty my hands were.

Those early lessons stood me in good stead. Over the years as a parent or a chief, I encountered situations where I had to be the bad guy. Some days it was obvious that if a situation was going to have a resolution, someone was going to have to get their hands dirty. You can’t always be a friend to your employees or your kids. Some days you have to the boss or the Dad.

The dirt under my fingernails this day told me I had been back to the earth. Pulling weeds and cupping out holes in the warm soil to plant the new flowers seemed to solidify my ownership of my little piece of this planet.

If you can see that your hard work or tough decisions will bear positive results, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. If you shrug the hard work off to someone else, the feeling of satisfaction just doesn’t appear.

Famous football coach Vince Lombardi tells us: “The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work. Work is the key to success, and hard work can help you accomplish anything.”

I’ve found I sleep better with a sore back and dirt under my fingernails. At least that’s what McGregor says.