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Monday, May 15, 2017

Whatever It Takes

Yesterday we celebrated another Mother’s Day. Since everyone has a mother, it’s a valuable proposition to honor them. Biblical, too. You know, “honor your father and mother” is one of the Big Ten.

Not everyone has a mom to write home about. But for the vast majority of people, Mom was the one who was willing to sacrifice and go overboard to look after her family. In many different ways, a mom is willing to do “whatever it takes.”

One classic example was published in the Washington Post a few years ago just after Mother’s Day. The story featured Stacie Jones who had twin third-grade boys. Both had learning disabilities. Reading and math were particularly difficult for them. The school district was ready to promote her boys to fourth grade but Stacie knew they weren't ready.

Stacie checked around and discovered an excellent school outside of the district to which her family was assigned. There was a steep learning curve on how to proceed and request admission to this school. There was no money for lawyers. But she persisted and her own school district eventually paid for her boys to get this specialized care. She was willing to do “whatever it takes.” (You can read the complete story at:

I have witnessed employees who want to impress their bosses with this same attitude. Often, to the detriment of their health and well being.

I had my own brush with this problem many years ago. My boss at the time was not overbearing, but extra assignments were inside his comfort zone. I had told him when I was hired that I was ready to do the job as needed. On one occasion, a conflict came up with a job assignment and a family commitment. I explained I was obligated to my family. And the feedback was, “I thought you were willing to do whatever it takes!” I replied, “Well, not if it takes my family!”

Entrepreneur posted a story on their website about this high commitment level in January of 2016. The headline read, “Whatever It Takes Attitude Always Works.” To be fair, there were several good points illustrated. A summary paragraph illustrates the good:

“‘Whatever it takes’ mind set is an amalgam, which differs from person to person. Passion, hunger for winning, belief, attitude, perseverance, knowledge, mentorship and positive expectations come together to create the magical concoction that generally elevates normal humans to legends.”

I love the drama this presents. But the article does not address that if job demands get way out of balance and you begin to suffer, what then? This places, as a false god, that success in the workplace is the most important aspect of life. An example of this can be found in a recent story, “No—I Won't Work Until Midnight and Then Come in at 8 a.m.” You get the picture.

Jesus of Nazareth saw it differently. The Bible paraphrase called The Message puts it this way: “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Mark 8:36-37, MSG)

Good, healthy thinking about our work life should engender commitment to be diligent in all we do, pursue excellence, champion teamwork, and be respectful of leadership. It may require occasional stretches of extra effort. But no job is worth the loss of your well being…or your soul.

Don’t take my word for it. Take Jesus’. The One who most clearly understood “Whatever it takes.”

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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