Today, I celebrate my twentieth anniversary as a conductor/engineer for Union Pacific Railroad, one of Americas leading transportation companies. Time really does fly!
I can remember applying for the job. It was one of those great pieces of advice my father gave me at a very unsettled time in my life. Don’t get me wrong; working for the railroad was not something that was out of the ordinary. Doing so would come with the honor of becoming the fifth generation of men in my family to fill that distinguished role. With that in mind, I applied, was hired and the rest as they say is history.
A lot happened during those two decades. I learned a lot about work ethic, planning for my financial future, being responsible (a railroader is responsible for the safety of the public, his colleagues and himself; a critical life lesson). But most importantly I forged a bond with my father that to this day is unbreakable. He was a legend on the job. The lessons he taught me are irreplaceable. I have no doubts that taking a job with the railroad was one of the smartest decisions I ever made. At a time when many men and women of my generation are still trying to find their passion and that “perfect” career, I have crossed a milestone few may experience. That feeling of accomplishment and pride comes from committing to a career. From dedicating one’s life to reaching a level of employment with a company that will put them in a position to retire comfortably at a young age so that they could go after their dreams. And above all from carrying out a legacy that dates back five generations. We don’t see this kind of history anymore. It seems to have ended with our grandparent’s and our parent’s generation. And that is disheartening.
Knowing I was following in the footsteps of men I respected and loved motivated me to always be the best. I never wanted to risk letting them down or worst yet, embarrassing our family name. When I talk about Legacy, Foundation, Purpose, these aren’t just catchy titles I pulled out of nowhere for my book. These are principles that molded me. It concerns me that these fundamental elements of character are becoming the exception rather than the rule. Respect for our heritage, culture, even ourselves is being diluted by World Star Hip Hop street fights and fretting over what famous couple is not styling their child’s hair. Really? With everything going on ( or NOT going on) in our personal lives, we find time to focus on such inconsequential matters? I can assure you (and I say this with pride and confidence, not ego) I could not have gotten this far and accomplished this much if I allowed myself to lose sight of the path God laid before me. I would not have had the strength or the integrity to remain persistent and dedicated if I let drama distract me from dream. The thought of not making my family (and myself) proud daily never occurred to me. I wish more of us were motivated by that kind of desire. Maybe we would give more, want more and strive for more than just being ordinary.
Twenty years to the day of my first hours on the job at UP I am grateful that I have earned more than the obligatory “anniversary gift” for my service from the company. I learned through hard work, dedication and perseverance what it means to represent my name and my legacy honorably. Some things money can not buy.
I hope this experience inspires someone to reach higher, want more, and stay the course toward success. If I can do it, so can you.