Who was the hardest working person you have ever known?

Hands down, the hardest working person I have ever known was a man with only an 8th grade education named Morris Bunton. I first experienced his amazing work ethic when I worked for him as a young teen picking oranges in the hot, humid Florida summers. We would leave his home long before the sun came up and sometimes not return until dusk. I worked alongside my brother for 2-3 weeks every summer to earn money for summer camp. We were paid 50 cents a box and I don’t think I ever made more than $20 in a day. It remains the hardest work I have ever done, and Morris did it every day alongside us. After multiple freezes damaged his fruit trees, Morris sold his grove. Throughout his life, he worked in farming and owned several businesses. Then he patented a high efficiency solar water heater and sold, built, and installed them himself. During my college years, I helped him with this business too.

In his early 70’s, Morris was diagnosed with cancer. He read everything he could on cancer, paying particularly close attention to how peak health and eating well could extend one’s life. He also researched and tried alternative treatments. A life-long meat and potatoes eater, Morris radically changed his diet and eliminated beef, replacing it with small portions of chicken or fish once every third day. He juiced fresh fruits and vegetables. Ultimately, he extended his life far longer than the doctors predicted. He continued working even as cancer began to destroy his body. Six months before his death, he was still climbing on top of homes to install his solar water heaters. My grandfather, Morris Bunton, died when he was 84 years old leaving behind a legacy of hard work and determination.

I have never met anyone who had physical stamina and determination like my grandfather. While he often worked 6 days a week harder than anyone half his age, he rested every Sunday. Even when I was there working alongside him during the summers, we worked every day but Sunday.

Throughout his life, my grandfather exemplified the following values:

  • Risk taking. He owned several businesses continuously reinventing himself over many years. Don’t follow the status quo. Life is easier when you do but more rewarding when you take calculated risks. This was a constant throughout his life.
  • Continuous learning. Even though he only had an 8th grade education, my grandfather was always studying and learning something new. There is power in learning. Commit to life-long learning. Find a subject that interests you in which you know little about and immerse yourself in learning about it.
  • Results oriented. When you work hard, you get results – period. Be the hardest working person on your team, in your business, or in your volunteer organization. As trite as it sounds, the dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.
  • Rest and renewal. While he worked hard 6 days a week, he never worked on Sundays. You can’t sustain high quality work without taking time to rest and in today’s hustle culture it’s more difficult than ever to have it. Give yourself a weekly break. Try to take a regular Sabbath.

The example that Morris Bunton demonstrated influenced me greatly. I hope his example can influence you too.

 

 

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