Boring or Character Building?

Rule 42. Learn to do the distasteful.

This particular rule is somewhat of a Layhew original. I was sitting in a sermon where the preacher encouraged the congregation to “ what’s right, even if it’s unpleasant or distasteful.” This sentence gave me pause, and I wrote it down in my little book of maxims.

I have had personal application of this principle over the last few days. On Sunday we had a beautiful snow fall, first of the year. However, that brought back another first of the year, shoveling. Every time I shovel, this particular Calvin and Hobbes strip comes to mind.

calvin building character

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After Church I arrived home to find a message from my father asking for my help splitting wood. Now my family has been burning wood for winter heat since I was five, so I’ve done this more than once, and I still hate it.

There is no appeal to me to go outside in the cold, start a loud chain saw and rip through wood, start a loud splitter and split wood, or worse carry wood from point A. to point B. There is one thing though that I enjoy about it, when I have the chance to grab a maul and split the wood by hand. Few things are more elegant than the decent of the maul head smashing into a log and cleaving it in half.


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Now why should we learn to do the distasteful? Life is too short to spend it on things we don’t like, right?

Wrong. Life is too short to not do things we dislike. Allow me to explain. As Calvin’s dad observed, the difficult and yes, distasteful, things do indeed improve our character. Life isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, it’s a world of hardship, where those who can survive and thrive doing hard and difficult things come out on top.


1. Don’t despise the day of small beginnings – Sometimes just because it’s a small job we might look at it with some degree of disdain. What you have to remember is that doing well in the small jobs demonstrates your character for bigger ones.

2. Remember why – Keep in mind why you’re doing what you’re doing. In my case, when splitting wood, I’m doing it for my family to provide them with heat.


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3. Keep a smile – Your attitude is everything. Though it may not effect the results of your work, it makes a difference in how your character is developed. You can still do the task with a bad attitude, but you will gain nothing from the experience, there would be no development.


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