OFF THE WALL: The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge and Chuck Norris’s Beard


Many thoughtful comments after yesterdays post. This one for instance, from Steven Oklesh, rose to someplace near the top.

“Fact – After reading this post, Chuck Norris’ beard abandoned him and is now en route to attach itself to Mike Rowe’s face.”

Crazy thing Steve – you’re right!

Chuck Norris’ beard arrived a little after 2 pm yesterday, and gave me quite a start. I kinda like it, but I’m prepared to give it back. But only if Chuck buys a SWEAT Pledge.

Speaking of The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge – wow. Lots of question regarding it’s content. This one caught my eye, from Brandon.

Hey Mike –

I love 90% of your S.W.E.A.T. pledge – but I can’t agree with number 3. (ok, 1 of 12 is 88% not 90 but close enough) “There are no bad jobs.” As I read it, I see a statement that says that you should accept work place conditions no matter what they are. I read that to say that if your employer doesn’t provide a safe work environment, that the job is still not bad. A job can be bad if it degrades you, or it requires you to do things that are illegal, immoral, or unethical. A job where your boss makes sexual comments to you that you don’t want, or that requires you to apply lead paint to children’s toys is a bad job. A job as a wait staff that requires you to put up with being fondled by the customers, or the management is a bad job.

Hi Brandon

Number 3 is a problem for a lot of people, because blaming our unhappiness on our job has become a very acceptable thing to do. We have successfully made Work the Enemy. So much so, that people now use examples of bad behavior to explain the existence of “bad jobs.” I think this is what you’re doing, and I believe it’s a mistake that goes beyond semantics.

A job can not “degrade” you, as you suggest. Only a person can do that. If your boss harasses you sexually or otherwise, it’s not the fault of the job – it’s the fault of the boss. Painting lead on children’s toys does not mean that painting is bad – it means a law is being broken. That’s a problem separate and apart from the job of painting. Likewise, a waitresses who gets fondled by customers should not blame her profession. She should blame the customer and call the cops. That’s called assault.

To be clear – there’s nothing in the SWEAT Pledge that says you should accept a position “regardless of workplace conditions.” There’s nothing that suggests that workers must endure the unendurable, the unsafe, or the illegal. In fact, there’s nothing in the Pledge that requires you to “do” anything at all. The SWEAT Pledge is simply a statement of belief. It’s overall purpose is to put the responsibility of individual happiness onto the individual.

I know some things about myself. I know that it’s in my nature to blame my disappointment and my shortcomings on my circumstances, instead of my choices. I don’t find that a flattering quality, and I work hard to get past it. Likewise, when it comes to our scholarship program, I prefer to reward another way of thinking. That’s why The SWEAT Pledge exists, and that’s why #3 is an important part of it.


PS. Last year, your basic question blew across my radar screen when a reporter in Michigan used my image to bolster his belief that “bad jobs” were a reality of life. My response to him was a more thorough, albeit wine-infused reply…Your Headline, My Face

PPS. My goal yesterday was not to sell 500 SWEAT Pledges, but we did anyway. Thanks very much. The money goes straight to the foundation, and helps in a big way as we raise funds for the next round of work-ethic scholarships.

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