Is “Time in Service” Dead?

Ask most people in a position of stature that are over 40 years old “how quickly should someone be able to move up?”. You will undoubtedly hear a phrase referring to “time in service”. This notion that someone must pay their dues to get access to elevated status. A notion that familiarity with a subject is entry level and proficiency comes with time, is a notion that may be seeing its end sooner than later. Why do I say these crazy things?

It is here though that I am somewhat at a loss. For my generation, when you got busted on a false accomplishment… you beat yourself up to make good on it and prove yourself down the road. For me personally, it was running my mouth about distance bicycling… then putting my money where my mouth was and biking to Wildwood, New Jersey from my humble suburb of Roslyn, PA. It dang near killed me to get it done, but it became a yearly pilgrimage to reset the mind.

I say it because I see it every day. As a parent of a ten-year-old and thirteen-year-old, this subject crosses our path often. It’s as simple as getting a new BMX bike for my son, watching him view some “Rad” cats on YouTube then tell me he knows how to do stunts. You already know the deal. I say cool, let’s see it. Then we see the fumble


This type of overcoming gave me a “You can do anything for a few hours” mentality that allows me to get through just about any uncomfortable situation. How is the upcoming age going to adapt, since not accomplishing their stated goals is no big deal? You see, my son doesn’t really care that he can’t nail a jump or bunny hop… just like my daughter played Saxophone for a year and lost interest… Duh, she already knows how to play the sax!?

It creeps higher though. I am not picking on my kids. People that see my day to day actually think I am working to have driven children. What will become of the ones that aren’t being taught to have a drive? In my professional life, I run into writers that can’t write, presenters that not only suck at presenting… but have no interest in improving, managers that skip project planning and communication, and salespeople that can’t build relationships. If I could see them striving to hone their craft, I would be stoked for them. What I see however is a workforce that has fallen into positions that they don’t fill and sadly have no drive to fit the mold.

You are in pretty rare air today if you are investing in Personal Development. You are in doubly rare air if you are mentoring in pouring into others. A picture of this in action was this weekend for me. My daughter wants to run Cross Country in high school next year – Yeah!! I get her to the track this weekend to work on some running. With no discipline, after a pep talk, she takes off running for about 1/4 mile. Then she’s walking. I started with a jog and was acclimating to the pace. She decided to hit the restroom while I knocked out another lap. Then we talked and got things more in line. For this visit, I am looking for a little stride modification and a solid one-mile run – not walk – no matter how slow. As I took my eyes off of her half a lap ahead, she was walking. No matter how much I love my daughter there is no getting past this issue. Things we want, take work. We have to put in the effort to reap the reward.

For years my wife and I looked at ways to shortcut weightloss while getting bigger every year. Finally, we buckled down. We modified the diet and lifestyle to include more workouts. There is no easy button for things that have value.

So, back to the theme of the article… time in service. I know a Service Area Manager in the powersports business that quite frankly sucks at his job. His boss doesn’t have the stomach to tell him he sucks. This individual not only feels after just a year in service that he could replace his boss – but that CEO is in his future. Some would say it takes decades at a company to earn the pathway to a position such as CEO, but as this notion of Time in Service dissipates… what lack of experience will corporate America reward?

I see this directly related to leadership. If our leaders continue to demand less and less, they will receive less and less. If they continue to lead poorly, the people below them will not have sufficient aspiration to achieve success. They will feel entitled to it without the achievement. I am looking around at my station in life. I am observing many from afar and I am worried. Anything in life worthy of your dream is worthy of your work. Through work and time in service, you may reach your dreams. Please tell me “Time in Service” is not dead.

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