Doing the Right Thing is Not a Hardship

[May 1, 2018]  Many years ago as I was walking through my company’s motor pool, when I saw an army Private working on an armored personnel carrier.  I stopped to ask why he was trying to fix the vehicle so early on a Sunday morning, instead of being with his buddies.  He said that it was no hardship doing the right thing for his platoon.

This young man had actually grasped a concept of basic humanity that I personally had never considered.  To the Private, working on his day off and on a difficult task was no big deal for him; it was just part of what he did to support his buddies.

In Greek mythology, we hear about King Sisyphus.  He was doomed to push an immense boulder up a hill, only for it to roll down when it nears the top, repeating this action for eternity.  This was punishment for his arrogance and deceitfulness by the gods.  This story is symbolic of the laborious and futile efforts in some difficult tasks.

To this Private, however, his work was neither laborious nor futile because it was the right thing for him to do.  He was happy in his work (doing the right thing); smiling at me and wishing me a good day.  My encounter with him lasted not even a minute but my memory of it lasted a lifetime.  I gained something from him that I would never forget.

Hardship, I learned, must be a mental attitude.  That is what I got from the brief encounter.  We can work hard, endure the most extreme conditions, and bear unreasonable burdens; but if we believe in our buddies and that what we are doing for the right thing, there can be no such thing as hardship.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4, the Bible1 

This quote from the Bible, as many ancient philosophers have written, tells us that people who are doing the right thing for their fellow humans, will not perceive their actions as a hardship.

Those many years ago in a U.S. Army motor pool actually changed the way I looked at my life as an Officer.  It took me several years but I came to the realization that the Private had more wisdom in his thinking than I did at the time.  Doing the right thing is certainly no hardship.

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  1. This is a condensed description. From the New International Version it reads in full: 1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations. Greetings. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

34 thoughts on “Doing the Right Thing is Not a Hardship

  1. Mr. T.J. Asper

    As a teacher and a coach, I can tell you that this is not an easy idea to instill in young boys and girls. The idea seems to catch on better with the girls for some reason but the boys are better at executing the concept. Why? I have no idea. Just an observation from real life experiences. What leaders need to do is find a way to make the point of this article stick.

  2. Doug Smith

    I went back to re-read this article and especially liked the idea presented that if you believe in something, then the “work” required is not really work. Great concept. Thanks.

    1. Wilson Cox

      I agree and most folks don’t have a clue until something happens in their lives where passion drives them.

  3. Drew Dill

    I’m a little late coming to the plate today for an original comment but I will argue that doing the right thing has many implications, not just relieving one of hardship. Yes, hardship is a mental attitude. I, as well as you, have seen people stopped in their tracks over a minor issue that bound them up tight. Others sailed by without even a thought. What’s in your head matters and it matters a lot.

  4. Bart Rhodes

    Longtime reader who has never really looked at the comments section. Looks like your readership is well educated on leadership issues.

  5. Shawn C Stolarz

    A new twist on an old idea. Thanks Gen. Satterfield.

  6. Yusaf from Texas

    Another good article for us to contemplate. I recommend you take this idea further and include this with different population groups. Or, tell us how culture impacts leadership.

  7. Greg Heyman

    More good stuff from Brig Gen Satterfield, as usual. Thank you.

  8. Georgie M.

    Like many of the others, I never quiet thought of it this way. That explains why I was never bothered taking care of my mother when she was in ill health and it took an enormous amount of time and energy.

  9. Jerry Jones

    I’m no Bible-thumping hanger-on but I will argue that the Bible is full of great wisdom. Those who fail to read and learn from it will miss out on such gems as you quoted from James 1.

    1. Max Foster

      You said it correctly. So many young folks are anti-Christian and anti-Jewish that they have thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

    2. Jonathan B.

      Yes, spot on with your analysis.

  10. Billy Kenningston

    Yes, it’s all about attitude. If you cannot have a positive attitude then your life will forever be a struggle.

  11. Eric Coda

    “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche. I think that is generally what this is about. Mental capacity not required.

  12. Ronny Fisher

    I’ve always found this to be true but never thought of it in this way.

  13. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Another GOOD ARTICLE for me to read with my morning newspaper. It will be a sunny day today so I will be out with my kids on the soccer field after classes to teach them about how their struggles to win the game will make them better.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Enjoy yourself and be careful with the kids.

  14. Anita

    Today, Gen Satterfield is telling us that what we do in life is about attitude and having a good attitude is what will make you a better, more satisfied, more valuable person.

  15. Joey Holmes

    I like your blog post today. It made me think. Cheers!

  16. Andrew Dooley

    Another great post to make me think.

  17. Dennis Mathes

    Unintentional meetings with people during our lifetime often have oversized impacts far beyond what we could have ever dreamed. Yes, we do learn from people and it could be from anyone, anytime, or any place.

  18. Wilson Cox

    Of course, I’m a fan of Greek Mythology so I liked your juxtaposition of King Sisyphus’s struggle with the struggles we all face. Well done.

  19. Janna Faulkner

    Gen Satterfield, I just downloaded to my Kindle Reader a new book called “Struggle Well: Thriving in the Aftermath of Trauma” (2018) by Ken Falke. The author deals with the exact issue discussed here but with a different and more in-depth twist. I recommend you take a look at it and provide your readers with a summary.

    1. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

      Janna. Thanks for the recommendation. I just downloaded it myself too. Quotable quote: “We believe that struggle is inevitable, inherently valuable, and useful in creating the life you desire.”

    2. Danny Burkholder

      I’ll download this afternoon. Note that the 99 cent price is effective for only two days starting today. I recommend anyone with an account at Amazon go there now.

    3. Anita

      Just downloaded to my Kindle and starting reading it. So far, it looks excellent.

  20. Army Captain

    I’ve always found that when I’m doing something I love, it’s easy. If I am doing the right thing, it’s easy. If my friends and family are around me, life is easy. Hardship is a mental attitude. Those who consider themselves as victims will always struggle and there is nothing you or I can do about it.

  21. Gil Johnson

    Interesting view of hardship. Thanks.

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