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Hammer and the Nail // Keegan Amos


Abstract: As the terminus of our college careers gets closer, many of of us find ourselves in a mindset of where am I going to work?  some individuals question how do I get a job? yet there is a single answer that it consistent no matter what you decide to do, it takes hard work.

Audience: To all students, and those pursuing their major life goals.

"Hammer and the Nail"

“It’s left like a spleen, dangling and hanging there with no purpose”

                                                                   - David Dowell


As a college student preparing to graduate, the worries of being hired immediately out of college lurks in the back of our minds endlessly. We all want to accomplish great things throughout our lives and to become a successful professional in our respective fields.


In my own experience, from merely listening to conversations, I have noticed a common concern or reoccurring question among individuals that are in the hunt for a future that consists of a job. The common question may be worded differently from each individual but in one way or another it basically goes like this: “What am I supposed to do to get a job?” Now you may think there is an easy answer to that question, but for some reason it remains unanswered for a lot of individuals.

I’m sure everyone has a different thought  on answering this question depending on who they are or how they were raised, but for me I’ve had this question answered for some time now. Although I don’t know if there is a single answer that exceeds any other but it's simple. To succeed in life you need to have a great work ethic. That may seem simple and straightforward but it’s surprising how few people actually possess this characteristic. Thanks to my father I was raised with the mindset that nothing in life is easily acquired, “If you want something you have to work for it.” as my he would so sternly remind me.

I’ve always had the mindset of outworking my competitors through sports and various jobs that I have obtained. Now granted most of the jobs I have acquired were in construction, which is a  job that requires physical labor and hard work to get the task at hand completed. But thanks to the labor intensive jobs I have obtained through the years, everything else seems easier to achieve.

I’ve used the work ethic that I have gained from working in construction and simply applied it to my life to accomplish any goal I set.


Each individual is different though, possessing their own special talent, but not everyone has a great work ethic and in my opinion work ethic beats talent any day. The majority of people who become very successful didn’t reach their level of success because they are simply talented at what they do. They didn’t magically become a CEO or a Principal of a firm overnight. Getting to that point of success in life wasn’t solely due to their talents. They had to work for that success and work hard.


The only problem with work ethic is it’s not an easily visible quality that you see in an individual. It’s easier to see work ethic in an individual when people are in a group setting all working for the same goal. Some can see this through a pristine portfolio or well rounded resume but group projects quickly locate the camouflaged slacker. For example, a difficult task is beset before a group, the ones possessing a great work ethic will be the first ones to step up and tackle said task. Work ethic is ultimately what drives a project to become finished and without it nothing would be accomplished in a timely manner.

Since the majority of my experience has been in construction I think of work ethic as either being a hammer or nail. The hammer being someone who has work ethic and is willing to put in the hard work. Then the nail  simply being someone who does not possess work ethic. It was obvious to me early that you want to be the hammer in life, but after much thought I have began to the see importance of being both the hammer and the nail.


The hammer of course remaining as the work ethic in tough situations and then the nail.. Instead of being an individual who doesn’t have work ethic, the nail can be viewed sort of like the worker brain. Helping make the correct conscious decisions in situations work ethic doesn’t necessarily apply.  


Ultimately though if you don’t have work ethic then the brain is left useless and without purpose. Work ethic helps to push yourself through the difficult situations that will ultimately arise throughout life. Without work ethic, then your brain is left like a spleen, sort of hanging around up there with no purpose.

This begs some questions..How does one motivate an individual or a group of individuals if they do not possess a work ethic? Or what are proper ways in motivating a group to complete a task that seems daunting or at some times very hard and time consuming? How can you be an effective “hammer to the nail”? To me it all comes down to certain traits of a person that is leading a group to a common goal.


A leader needs to have confidence in oneself and be honest about their own abilities. The “fake it ‘till you make it” mantra isn't successful in a leadership position. No small amount of optimism is required due to the varying levels of skill acquisition a group may or may not possess. It’s also important to know when you’re wrong and to always be open to your peers suggestions in certain situations because you’ re not always going to be right.

As an individual who holds a leadership position in the Design+Make Studio I have been developing leadership skills such as the ones I briefly mentioned. As a leader though I would consider myself a novice because great leadership doesn't happen overnight. It takes practice and most importantly patience; no not only in oneself but also in the group being lead.

Written by Keegan Amos

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