I think I was about 12 years old. I had been given the new chore of raking the front yard. I hated it.

We had a pretty big front yard with lots of pine needles and leaves and I was loafing about at it, grimacing at how long this was going to take. Apparently my dad noticed. He started to make his way over from another part of the yard.

“Dad, this is going to take forever. I’ve been going for an hour and I’ve hardly gotten anywhere!” I said, defeated and annoyed.

“It doesn’t have to take long if you hustle,” he said. “This should take you two minutes to do this entire area if you stop piddling around at it and just do it.”

“Two minutes!? No way! That’s ridiculous. I’m not piddling around!” I yelled. There was no way anybody could do this whole area in two minutes and his exaggeration made me stinkin’ angry.

“You’re making it a bigger job than it has to be,” he informed.

“Two minutes is ridiculous, Dad! This is a lot of work. There is no way you can do this in two minutes.” I think I was crying at this point. Looking back I’m not sure why or how crying makes sense, but such is the emotional drama of being a pre-teen.

My dad took the rake from me to show me how it’s done. I began to watch with the anticipated satisfaction of very soon getting to tell him “I told you so.”

But that feeling didn’t last long. The rake moved in quick, long, powerful movements across the grass. Each pull of his arms accelerated to the end of each stroke, pitching pine needles into growing piles across the lawn. There was no pause in between each maneuver of the rake. The entire demonstration was like one continuous movement.

Two minutes later I had learned one of the key lessons of my life. He was finished. The lawn was raked. And, needless to say, I didn’t have much to say as he handed me back the rake.

I had just witnessed hustle. I’m sure I had seen it before, but for the first time I noticed it — and it changed my life.

We often don’t know what we can do until we see that it’s possible. We put up imaginary barriers in our head that we we allow to limit our lives without us ever even testing them out. If we’re lucky, somebody forcibly knocks those barriers over for us and we all of a sudden see the world completely differently.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t ever get proven wrong like that. They never experience their potential. They never learn the value of hard work, focus and determination. They’ve never even seen what it looks like. They piddle around in life turning trifles into chores and inconveniences into excuses. And they miss out on their massive potential.

We may not all be able to rake the yard in two minutes, but we can all hustle. God will take care of the rest.

[photo credit]

5 comments Add comment

Marc Cardaronella September 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm

This is awesome! Thanks, I needed that today.

Time to go hustle!

Matthew Warner September 18, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Thanks, Marc!

Mark September 18, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Thanks…I got alot done today.

Kinsi September 18, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Oh, yes. I needed the “hustle talk” today. I also needed the reminder that part of hustle is taking one task at a time and straight-up doing it… until it’s done, duh. I sometimes suffer from that popular delusion that multi-tasking is the best use of my time.

Matthew West September 20, 2012 at 8:40 am

Thanks for sharing Matthew! I am lucky enough to have a dad and two grandfathers who took the time and a huge amount of patience to instill lessons like these. Now that I’m a dad I try to do my best to pass it on to my kids but the temptation to let it slide is always there. Those moments are so clear in my memory it’s spooky. Yeah you might have been crying but if you had paid attention I bet your dad had just a little bit of a smile knowing how important that moment was.

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