Mike Rowe’s 12-Point Pledge

By Scott Westerman
Listen to an audio version of this message.

“I believe that I am the product of my choices — not my circumstances.” ~ Mike Rowe

Mike Rowe has become a well known personality as a result of hosting “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel. He’s also a terrific writer with a great sense of humor and some laser beam insights into life. Mike’s 12 Point Pledge has been in circulation again recently on the Internet. It contains some gems of wisdom that are worth sharing.

Here it is with my annotations in italics.

  1. I believe that I have won the greatest lottery of all time. I am alive. I walk the Earth. I live in America. Above all things, I am grateful. For all our faults, America is still a land of opportunity. It may feel like we are living in the most challenging of times, but I always remember that challenges are opportunities for greatness, disguised as problems.
  2. I believe that I am entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more. I also understand that “happiness” and the “pursuit of happiness” are not the same thing. They’re not? Shoot! So we’re not entitled to happiness. But we’re entitled to working as hard as we can to achieve it? I’m down with that. Yes, we are not entitled to happiness, but each of us have the power to pursue it. Those who persevere have the best chance of finding it.
  3. I believe there is no such thing as a “bad job.” I believe that all jobs are opportunities, and it’s up to me to make the best of them. We’ve all had jobs we didn’t like, bosses who probably didn’t deserve to be our bosses and have found ourselves stuck in unpleasant situations. That’s life. Deal with it. But the ability to change our situation is ultimately ours and ours alone. 
  4. I do not “follow my passion.” I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm. In other words, our jobs don’t define us. We define what kind of worker we are in any given profession. I love this one. If you’ve ever seen the dynamic of a room change when a certain person walks in, you understand the power of passion. Our true assignment is to discover our PURPOSE and vector toward it with all the passion we possess.
  5. I deplore debt, and do all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I can’t afford. How many of us can honestly say this? (Slowly puts hand down.) Imagine the problems that would be solved if we all felt this way (including you, Uncle Sam). It’s easy to display the trappings of success without having earned them. It’s much harder to dig yourself out of a hole when your true goal is to build a mountain. The view is much better from the top than it is at the bottom.
  6. I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being in “compliance” does not necessarily mean I’m out of danger. Safety, courtesy care and cash flow. Disney prioritizes their business in that order and you should, too.
  7. I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is. That is, work your you-know-what off, burn the midnight oil and all that good stuff. Don’t look for shortcuts on the path to success. This is what we MSU Alumni call a Spartan’s WIll. Work ethic and results always win in the long run.
  8. I believe the most annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job or find a way to be happy. And I will avoid energy sucking whiners at all costs.
  9. I believe that my education is my responsibility and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning and understand that library cards are free. And let me add that sustainable success is directly related to investments we make in furthering our education and increasing our knowledge. Yes, library cards are free, but there is no return unless there is an investment.
  10. I believe that I am a product of my choices — not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn’t do. Of course! Pshhh … none of us would ever do this. The truth is, in the game of life, we’ve all been dealt different hands. But it’s up to us what we make of them. We become what we think about, who we hang out with and how we decide to spend our time. Choose your thoughts, friends and actions with care.    
  11. I understand the world is not fair, and I’m OK with that. I do not resent the success of others. Looking to the Joneses doesn’t help us. If we can turn that resentment into inspiration, we’ll be much better for it. Channel your fear and negative energy toward positive purposes. The future looks its bleakest at night and is at its brightest in the morning so make hay while the sun shines. Recharge and refocus when it doesn’t.
  12. I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off. Amen. I’ll start waking up early … tomorrow. Everyone of us would probably much rather sleep late, go home early and do as little as possible to maintain our lifestyle. It doesn’t work that way. If you’re not improving the value you add to your friendships and your business, you’re at risk of losing both.

Like most wisdom, Mike’s 12 points are common sense and time tested. If you apply them to your career and toward nurturing your most cherished relationships, the law of cause and effect will take over. And you will reap what you sow.