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To our graduating seniors

As graduation approaches, the high school seniors of the valley look to this event with both anticipation and trepidation. Sometimes I think those who choose to go on to college have it easier than those who don’t.

After four years in the womb, many young men and women must now venture out into the world to make their mark. And what type of mark will it be?

Over the years I’ve collected a number of words of wisdom, aphorisms, or words to live by and general sutra about the conduct of life. A couple of the following are mine, most are not, and in many cases I’ve simply condensed pithy expressions that I’ve come across into as few words as possible.

So for those young and tender souls venturing into the world seeking jobs that will pay the rent, allow them to buy a new car or even just put food on the table, allow me to share some words of wisdom that apply to all societies, but most importantly to ours. Whether one chooses to begin “life after high school” as a stock clerk, snowboard instructor or carpenter, the same rules apply toward getting ahead in a capitalistic society. And the following is the basic premise: People will give you their money for only two reasons: providing them with food feelings, and trust. So how does one make people feel good and engender trust?

Let’s start from the top.

1. Always give more to your customers (or your company’s customers) and your boss than is expected. Once on the job, sit down every few weeks and list the number of ways that you have delivered more or better service than you were paid for. The longer that list becomes, the sooner your compensation will increase.

2. Never allow yourself to be beaten or fail in an endeavor because you were unprepared. If given 10 hours to chop a tree, spend the first seven sharpening the ax.

3. Never criticize, condemn or complain – negative thoughts attract more negative thoughts, and negative thoughts won’t do you any good in the marketplace. Ask yourself if you’ve been harmonious and cooperative in the workplace.

4. If you’re a procrastinator, eliminate the habit. If you don’t, it will follow you all of your life and will militate against you.

5. Too often the first thing someone new on the job does is to look around and observe how others are doing their job, and then mimic that behavior. But unless someone is observing the boss, what he or she is actually doing is following the follower. Make up your mind early in the game that you’re going to put in nine hours work for eight hours pay.

6. Ask yourself daily how you can improve your service on the job. Business is about meeting or exceeding customer expectations. Think of the last time a restaurant, retail store or contractor exceeded your expectations. What was your attitude about repeat business or telling your friends?

7. When you encounter on-the-job problems, which everyone does, and you are unclear as to an appropriate solution, try writing down the problem in 25 words or less. If you cannot do that, then you don’t understand the problem.

8. Don’t violate your conscience (that’s the little voice inside that knows what you’re really doing). Ask yourself if your conduct on the job has garnered the respect from your customers, fellow employees and boss.

9. Do your homework! Don’t guess or make decisions without researching the issue or the concern. A little bit of analytical examination goes a long way. It also eliminates the need to re-do something you’ve already done.

10. And finally, never, ever walk past poor quality without doing something about it.

Simple? Yes, but all too often we forget the little things that make the big things work. Each of you has or will receive a diploma (and hopefully an education), but who William the Conqueror was, or when the Battle of Hastings took place may not play a big part in your new world.

There are dozens of “Life’s Little Lessons” books on the shelves of the Bookworm and Verbatim, and you will do yourself a great disservice if you don’t avail yourself to personal development after high school. But the concepts I’ve outlined above are not only good for the soul, they will also help you earn a living and progress in whatever field of endeavor that you choose.

Give it some thought.

Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at bmazz@centurytel.net


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