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Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 3

Preface to Union Apprenticeship, 1970–1974: Last month I promised you an earful on this topic. That is my deliverable. Easy enough. I have a mouthful of things to say. Consequently, I hope to leave you with a headful of things to think about. This chapter merely sets the stage and doesn’t really delve into my apprenticeship and the program itself.


I have no sympathy for those who complain about how hard things are in today’s world. Sure enough, things are tough. The younger generation has its challenges. Young and old alike. But truth be told, life has been a lot tougher at times in the past. Let’s face it: Life is hard, and succeeding at it and business will never be easy. Someone once said, “There is no such thing as gravity. Earth sucks!”


You don’t need an excuse for your right to fail. You need to accept reality and learn to cope, moreover, excel. Life is like walking up a down escalator. You simply have to outpace the nonstop downward trend. If you stop or even slow down, you will lose ground. You are likely to end up starting over at a disadvantage or, worse yet, becoming a complete failure and giving up all together. Too many people are giving up or failing to even try. Instead, they feel entitled, and that’s a big problem. The only thing you are entitled to is what you earn.


At this point in life, I don’t like excuses. I try like hell to avoid them. I bite my tongue, suck it up and take personal responsibility. I’m not entitled to anything I haven’t earned, nor do I believe in the blame game. Everybody’s got someone to blame for just about anything they fail to achieve. It’s their parents, their upbringing, their boss, company or perhaps even God’s fault that they are failing. Not!


Take a few moments to consider the following. Most of us believe the Bible is, at the very least, a source of wisdom. I am reminded of a story in the Book of Genesis, the very first book of the Bible. In the beginning. Bible believer or not, hear me out.


When the original sin occurred, according to the best-selling book of all time, a serpent was used by the devil. The snake (devil) deceived the woman into partaking of the forbidden fruit. She then shared it with Adam. Then, God came on the scene and asked Adam, “What have you done?” His reply? “It was the woman and you gave her to me!” God’s question? “What have you done?” Instead of taking personal responsibility and answering the question, he blamed Eve and ultimately God.


And so it is, and so it was and so it will be, just because. That’s human nature. If anything it’s probably worsened over time but it certainly hasn’t improved or changed. It wasn’t Adams fault, it was Eve and, worse yet, God Himself. The real problem in Adam’s view was somewhere else, anywhere else, but it wasn’t him.


Allow me to briefly emphasize how significant “personal responsibility” is on the pathway to promotion or increased responsibilities in the workplace or anywhere else. It is essential if you are going to take the next step as you climb every rung of the ladder of success.


I don’t want readers wondering if I’ve forgotten that the title of this column is “Management Desk” or developing the mistaken impression that I’ve simply wondered off topic. Let me put it like this and leave it at that for now: In order to have any right to the credit for success, you will automatically have to own the blame for your failure. There is an inseparable connection—if you are responsible.


As I enrolled in the apprenticeship program, unbeknownst to me within six short years I would complete my apprenticeship, becoming a foreman before I was even a journeyman as well as a licensed contractor. In a half dozen years my life radically changed. No one became someone. The journey would be fraught with difficulty, seemingly impossible challenges and humiliating setbacks. I learned a lot. However, it would be insufficient, simply not enough, to sustain my accomplishments.


More on that later.

Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. Contact him at [email protected].

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