After 5 days of doing manual labor in sweltering 95-degree heat in West Virginia, summer would never be the same for my two sons and me…
I always tell my kids, “You get tough by doing tough things.” So I thought, “what better way to start their summer break than to give my two oldest kids their much-needed coming-of-age experience!”
Instead of our usual fun summer getaway adventures, my sons— Jesse (16) and Wyatt (14)— and I went on a mission trip that changed the way we view the world.
This year, my boys and I signed up for a mission trip organized by the Appalachia Service Project— a “Christian ministry that inspires hope and service through volunteer home repair and replacement.”
During the seven-day mission trip, we spent our nights sleeping in a gymnasium with 70 strangers, while our days were spent sweating through our jeans from the non-stop digging and hammering and building.
The experience changed us, to say the least. Not because of the hard work. I’ve worked plenty of construction jobs. But because of the emotional conflict that I walked away with.
In this episode, allow me to take you back to our trip to Kanawha County and experience what it’s like to make a dent in the world— one family at a time.
If you don’t have time to listen to the entire episode or if you hear something that you like but don’t have time to write it down, be sure to grab your free copy of the Action Plan from this episode— as well as get access to action plans from EVERY episode— at JimHarshawJr.com/Action.
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[00:00] They need to put something here to help these people, to educate them, to give them skills, to allow them to, to take a shower, to allow 'em, to have a, a clean place, to come a safe place, cuz there's drugs and violence and poverty all throughout this new room. It was a mind opening experience for welcome to another episode of success through failure.
[00:23] This is your host, Jim Harshaw, Jr. and today I'm bringing you a solo episode on success. Failure making an impact, making a dent in the universe. Now as a regular listener, you might know that I alternate mostly between an interview episode and then a solo episode. So I kind of go back and forth for the most part.
[00:45] And right now I'm in the middle of a four part series on mastery, which is based on my retreat from may, which was titled and themed moving to mastery. So we've already published. Two of those episodes today was gonna be the third, but. Had to get you this message because it's so important. It's so heavy on my heart right now.
[01:05] And you know, like we're also just the top of my mind. And I'm gonna explain to you why as we go through this. So I'm gonna interrupting the four part series there because I am a changed man. Impact is a big part of my core values. Now my core values are faith, family fit, fitness, and fun. The fit part of that means having a job or an occupation that fits my family fits my lifestyle and, and the way I wanna live my life.
[01:35] Well, there's another. F that I've discovered over the past couple of years, and it actually starts with a pH. So it's philanthropy and philanthropy happens to start with the same F sound. It's really impacted the word that I like to use, uh, where it came from, but philanthropy kind of makes it more memorable for me.
[01:54] And that's really the critical piece about your core values is finding a way to. Make them memorable so that they're top of mind. And, you know, somebody walks up to you on the street and asks you, what are your core values? And you don't have to say, ah, you know what? I have them written down at home somewhere, or hold on, I got 'em on my phone here somewhere.
[02:08] Let me pull them up. No, you have to have them top of mind. So for me, it's faith, family fit, fitness and fun. And philanthropy. And this was based off of, like I said, impact now I'm on the F three nation foundation board. So if you're not familiar with F three F three is a national actually global now free men's workout organization, fitness organization, but really it's so much bigger than that.
[02:35] Just go to. F three nation.com to learn more, but I'm really involved in it here in Charlottesville, where I live. And I'm now in the board of the advisory council for the F three foundation. So I'm the board chair and the mission of the F three foundation board is to accelerate F three nation's mission.
[02:57] So F three nation's mission is to invigorate male community. Leadership. That's really what this is at its heart and soul is a leadership organization. And so the foundation, the fundraising arm, our mission is to accelerate. The mission of F three. So accelerate the mission and impact through generosity.
[03:18] So this is why this organization is so close to my heart. It's about the impact, right? This is why I said hell yes, to being invited to be the chair of the advisory council. Whenever it was offered to me. Because it's so close to my core values. And what I wanna share with you today is something else that I got involved in recently that has made a huge impact in my life, the lives of my boys and I have four kids, but my boys are 14 and 16.
[03:44] So I was able to participate in this with them. And made an impact in the world really had a huge impact on one family's world. And so what I'm gonna share with you today is three things. All right. Number one, insight, insight in what it means to serve. And we serve with a particular organization doing a mission trip called Appalachia service project.
[04:03] Number two. I'm gonna share with you information, information about the poverty levels that we saw and witnessed and experienced, and number three, inspiration and inspiration for you to make an impact. Right now, this is all under the umbrella of success. Through failure. We created a, had a lot of success.
[04:20] It was only because of a lot of the failures that we experienced throughout our experience. So just to share with you this story and pull out some lessons that we're gonna hopefully meet these three criteria that I have for this episode, insight, information and inspiration that I wanna share with you.
[04:37] So. Like I said, I have two boys. They're both teenagers. My girls are younger and I've really been thinking, especially about my oldest. You know, I always always want my oldest child to have sort of a coming of age experience. And my oldest he's 16 years old now. And I want him to have a crucible.
[04:54] Experience something that's really hard that he's gonna go through and, and come out a changed person. On the other side for me, I, I had this over and over through wrestling, competing at a national level and, and actually international level as well. And just doing painfully hard things for, for many, many years.
[05:13] So I, I had these experiences and I think they're so incredibly valuable. And I always say to my boys, one quote, and I. You get tough by doing tough things. And I, I, me correct myself. I say this to all four of my children, not my boys, all four of my children. You get tough by doing tough things. And this came from, uh, a friend of mine, Jay Robinson, he's the former head wrestling coach at university of Minnesota.
[05:36] He was talking to one of his wrestlers, went off to become an army ranger. And this was one of the messages that this young guy brought back to his coach. And also, you know, kind of reflecting back on my interviews with Joe Des, who's the founder of Spartan race. Interviewed him in episode 27. And then again in episode 340, but back in episode 27, Jo desen said, if you architect a little bit of discomfort into your day and into your life, you can be happy, just eating a cracker in the rain.
[06:03] So my boys and my kids have always heard me talking about this, right? You get tough by doing tough things and, you know, you could be happy just eating a cracker in the rain. And I wanted my kids to have this experience. So starting with my boys, because they're the oldest, not because they're boys, but just because they're the oldest, I really was focused on them.
[06:20] And the hard thing is it's like, well, when will I do this? Well, what will I do? Do I take them on a, a seven day backpacking trip in the mountains, on the Appalachian trail? Or, you know, what do we do? Like, what is this thing that we're gonna do? But the, the momentum and the gravity and, you know, inertia and busyness of life has kept me from doing this.
[06:40] And then one day we're we're church on a Sunday and our church is participating in a mission trip and they're sort of promoting, you know, this trip to Mexico and my wife ally she's like, gosh, you should do that with the boys, you know, they're of age to be able to do that. Cuz you have to be a certain age.
[06:57] Like boy, that does sound great. And then, so we kind of had the conversation about a mission trip, and then we learned about this other organization called Appalachia service project. And it was established in 1969 and they now have upwards of 15,000 volunteers annually. and they serve right here in America.
[07:17] And I thought, gosh, it would be great to go to Mexico. But I guess there, you know, there are people who really need this in America. I didn't know at what level I'm thinking really in Mexico, it's gonna be much worse than here in America because it's America. Right? Well, I learned differently. I learned that there's some.
[07:33] Immense suffering happening here in the richest country, in the world, 2018 census data showed that 11.8% of families in the United States live in poverty. Okay. 11.8%. However, in Appalachia, that number is much higher. It's 16%. This is according to the Appalachian regional commission. And so I thought, wow, maybe we could do a mission trip and you know, do this a little bit closer to home.
[08:01] And I learned that a friend of mine had worked for them. He said, it's a great organization. So what do we do? We went ahead and we signed up, we signed up, we paid the money, me and my two sons, one of my buddies and his two sons and our boys are like best friends. And so. Six of us. We signed up for this thing and we're gonna do it right.
[08:18] Well, that's when the trouble started. So we got a lot of pushback from my boys, right? They're teenage boys. This is literally the first weekend in summer. And we're saying, Hey, we're gonna go do something. That's not gonna be really fun. The first weekend of summer, you know, you've been through a long school year and we're gonna go do this thing.
[08:36] You don't have a choice. Teenage boys. They weren't particularly excited about it to say the least we'll just end it right there. They weren't happy and then it was like, we started getting all this paperwork that we had to fill out this paperwork and a lot of information from ASP Appalachia service project.
[08:52] And I'm reading through the information it's telling us, like we have to do these skits to introduce ourselves and all this stuff and be prepared to lead devotions. And I'm a Christian, but I've never really led a Bible study or a devotion or anything like that. And I'm thinking, oh boy, this is maybe.
[09:07] You know, not what we were signing up for. And I'm kind of picturing like corny, overly, fake, happy Christians, like, you know, the type we all know the type. They're usually the ones who like end up on TV somehow. And that's the kinda ones that a lot of people think of as a Christian, but that's actually not the case.
[09:25] Right? The typical Christian is just regular people who have this deep faith and this belief. So, this is what I'm like imagining, right? And I'm, I'm wondering like, oh my gosh, is this the right thing for us? And then I'm wondering if I have time for this. Right. My business is, is really busy. You know, life is busy.
[09:41] Business is booming right now. And I'm like, boy, I don't know if I have time to take off a full week. We leave on Sunday, come back on Saturday. And then leading up to this thing, like a couple of weeks before, you know, COVID starts going through our house. And I'm wondering if you know, the week before maybe my one son has COVID I'm like, maybe this can get us out of it.
[10:00] And I'm start wondering to myself, like, wait a second. Am I actually looking for an excuse? Am I looking for excuse to get out of the hard thing that I signed up for? And I said, no, even if he has, COVID sure we're not gonna go and we're gonna make sure everybody's safe. But if he doesn't like, we're not looking for any other excuses and he didn't have COVID and we went and everybody was safe.
[10:22] So we got over that mental hurdle and then I realized, wait a second, if you have to wear jeans, you're on literally a construction site or different construction sites throughout the week. And there is no wiggle room on this. You're on a construction site. You can't wear shorts. Yes. It's gonna be in the mid to upper nineties, but no, you cannot wear shorts.
[10:37] You have to wear jeans long pants. That's just what you do on a construction site. And unfortunately my boys don't have any genes, not a single pair. And. Part of it is because they are tall. They're like 6 1 6 2. And my oldest is I think, six, one or six two now. And he's growing by the day. I'd have to check the 14 year old.
[10:59] I think he's six foot now. And so they're tall, but they're thin as a pencil. Right? So they like, they're hard to buy jeans for thinking like, okay, I can't even buy jeans for these guys. Like, how are we gonna do this? Like all these obstacles, all these reasons, you know, and excuses for maybe backing out or not doing this or feeling sorry for ourselves, cuz we have to go do this.
[11:18] While this thing, the date gets closer and here it is, it's upon us. And we load up my pickup truck with work clothes and tools and, you know, hand tools for digging and also, you know, power tools and my couple of toolboxes, et cetera, we load up the truck. We meet up with our buddies and we're about to pull out of the driveway.
[11:38] We put in the GPS where we're going in West Virginia Charleston, West Virginia. We pull out of the driveway and I kid you not, not 100 feet away from our driveway. The GPS says turnaround, turnaround Rero turnaround, go back home. It tells us to go back to the address that we had come from. We didn't punch anything wrong into the GPS.
[12:00] I'd never seen this before. I've used my GPS. I don't know, a thousand times on my iPhone. It was the weirdest thing. It was like this Oman. I'm like, oh my gosh, should we actually, should we, should we go? Maybe we're supposed to turn around. Right. But we go, we make the four hour track to Charleston, West Virginia, and we show up and there's a group of 35 people and a group of 25 people.
[12:22] So there's three groups, essentially the group of 35, the group of 25. And then our little group of six, all the people in the other two groups, they know each. Right. We pull into this church parking lot. Everybody's already there. We're the last ones to arrive. Everybody else pretty much knows. Well, couple dozen other people, except for us.
[12:39] We don't know anybody else there except for our small little group, but guess what we have to spend the entire week integrated with all these people, sleeping in a gymnasium, 70 people sleeping in a gymnasium, one massive gymnasium, and we all have to sleep in. So we park our truck and we go walk in to kind of check in and let 'em know we're here.
[13:00] And we walk in and it's just chaos. There's kids, there's people, there's stuff, there's tools. And there's a barrier, a plastic barrier. Imagine a close line, strung the width of a gymnasium, right. And there's a black plastic draped off of it. Just draped from the sort of close line on down, maybe 10 feet high down to the floor and taped onto the one to the right side.
[13:22] It says, you know, male. Sleeping quarters on the left side, it says female sleeping quarters. We pull back the plastic and we walk into the male sleeping quarters area, and it's just littered with sleeping bags and air mattresses and cots and smelly teenage boys and a handful of men. And on the other side of another black plastic wall was a bunch of women and girls on that side.
[13:46] And I'm thinking, oh my goodness, what did we get ourselves into? There's zero privacy. There's just bodies everywhere. It's a mess bags and bodies and sleeping bags everywhere. And we're the last group to arrive. So we get the worst spot on the floor. So we kind of have to like nudge some people over. Can you move that way a little bit?
[14:06] Can you move that way? And we're like trying to get our little space carved out in the gymnasium. The whole time. We're just thinking like, what did we get ourselves into? And then they make a call and it's time for everybody to meet everybody. We need to do the first big group meeting, right? 70 people.
[14:21] And this meeting, we meet in the cafeteria of this church. There's a church attached to this gymnasium or did we make our way over into the cafeteria of the church? And we sit down and. It's this long boring meeting. It's like rules and regulations and the plan for the week. And it's like, my boys are just getting more and more annoyed as the conversation goes on and I'm getting uncomfortable.
[14:43] I have to stand up and sit down, cuz the chairs are uncomfortable. You know, I told you, I was worried about like the corny, overly fake happy Christians. And the one guy has suspenders on and rainbow CROs and I'm thinking, oh my goodness, this is the guy, this is the guy I was picturing. And he's all high energy, you know?
[14:58] And I'm wondering like, does it get corn? Is this where it gets. Like, does it get corny from here? And I look over the boys and they're just pissed. You know, they're not happy about this whole thing, you know, they're forced to be there and dad send them up for this and oh, by the way, the weather forecast all week.
[15:13] It's gonna be in the 95 degrees and above, and we're gonna be in the sun all day working. And so this just keeps moving from bad to worse. And then it's dinner time. So we're sitting in that meeting, they wrap up the meeting finally, and we get dinner and you get these trays and you feel like you're in like prison or like you're in the military, in the army.
[15:30] And you get this tray and has like the five different sort of sections. And you walk through the cafeteria line, they just slap food onto your plate, you know? And you go sit down and you eat and it wasn't the best food. It was cafeteria food, you know, And it's like, oh boy, what did we get ourselves into?
[15:45] So that's the start of this whole thing, right? This is day zero. And there's five days of work ahead of us. So we go to bed Sunday night and it's people everywhere and it's loud. And you know, he's people coughing all night long and you hear noises, people getting up to go to the bathroom and all that.
[16:02] It's like, man, this is gonna be a long. Then we wake up the next morning, it's 90 plus degrees. When we get to the construction site, there's just the six of us in a work crew and work these people's home and we're gonna help convert their back porch into a bathroom. Cuz they have one bathroom in the house that's on the upper floor and they're not very mobile and they can't get up there.
[16:20] The older folks and not very mobile and very poor. We had to dig footers. Underneath this back porch that they had. So we could shore it up and add a girder underneath it. That was the plan for the week to start by shoring up this back porch. So we could build it into a actual room bathroom, you know, walls into your walls, exterior walls, bathroom, toilet, and everything.
[16:41] You know, our job that week was really just to kind of get things started. It's like a seven week project, so that we start digging these foot. Underneath the deck, hands and knees, we're digging underneath the deck. It's hot, dirty, sweaty, miserable, sweat through your jeans by 10 o'clock in the morning, kind of work.
[16:58] And then, you know, the day goes on and we break for lunch and we have ham and cheese, just white bread. Ham cheese and another slice of white bread. And that was it for lunch. You know, we had to pack our own lunch that morning to kind of provide the ham and cheese, you know, and some PI bird jellies, and that was lunch.
[17:14] And the rest of the day, it was pretty much that right day one was hell, the boys are angry. My friend is wondering what I talked him into. We get back to the church at the end of the work day and the showers are like, there's a line to get into the showers. First of all, cause there's four showers for 70 people.
[17:29] And the showers are like really low flow, so you can barely get your whole body wet. But my goodness, that feel good, right? Talking about, Jodis talking about eating a cracker in the rain. You know, you can be happy just eating a cracker in the rain. I was happy just getting a shower with a low flow shower head at the end of this Workday, cuz it was so hot.
[17:47] So tiring. It's such hard work, but it was exactly what I had signed up for. It was the crucible experience that I wanted for my boys. Day two. It's pretty much the same thing. Only hotter, right? Continued digging. We had done some other sort of odd jobs around the place as well, but continued digging that day mixed and poured concrete.
[18:07] Right? First time my boys had experience doing this. I grew up doing construction, a lot of construction work concrete in the summers and working on a house home framing crew worked with a handyman. I've done all this kind of work since I was a kid, but this was the first time my boys poured concrete.
[18:21] They mixed and poured concrete. It was another hot, hard, dirty, sweaty sweat through your jeans by, you know, 10 o'clock in the morning, kind of day. That night we went back to the church and I talked to a woman and she had been serving with, uh, Appalachia service project for like 15, 20 years. And she said she made a, a comment to me.
[18:42] She said, you know, gosh, like, I feel like summer's just not complete. Without an ASP trip, an Appalachia service project trip. Now Appalachia service project serves all over Appalachia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, all over Appalachia. And she'd been doing this for years at different sites for years.
[18:59] And she said, you know, summer's just not summer. It's not complete without an ASP trip. And I'm thinking you're crazy. And then that same evening, another person said to me, you know, careful, this is almost like a cult. You do it once and you keep coming back and I'm thinking to myself. Yeah, I doubt it. and then that was the end of day, two day three.
[19:18] It was even hotter. And the work, thankfully wasn't as backbreaking, but we're now building and installing a girder. We had to build a girder, a beam, essentially out of a couple of two by tens and some OSB plywood, some different things to build a girder and, you know, install it underneath this porch. We had to remove the decking, remove the old flooring, remove some porch walls that were there and.
[19:41] A lot of backbreaking work, but wasn't quite digging on our hands and knees under a porch that day, the building inspector had to come by to do an inspection, to approve the work that we had done so far. And he told me of a story. I started picking his brain. He told me of a story. He had just left a home that had been burned down by fire, but the people were living in the basement.
[20:02] They didn't have money. They didn't have insurance. They were living in their basement. They had no electricity and they were trying to get approved to get electricity. He couldn't turn it on. I was blown away and he said, oh Jim, there's a million stories like this. He said, I may get the part of this story wrong.
[20:18] We said, either West Virginia, the state, or maybe it was the city of Charleston, just got a huge settlement from a drug company in the tens of maybe hundreds of millions of dollars from the big pharma companies. The op opioid epidemic, because you see this stuff everywhere. Now in this home that he had just left that had been burned down.
[20:39] When I went to look at the house, he goes, I went into the basement. There was a woman laying on a mattress on the floor with flies on her, out cold, unconscious from drugs. This is what drugs have done to people. This is what these big pharma companies pushing these opioids. This is the result. Like he saw it laying on the floor that day.
[20:59] Right? Poverty and people sinking into despair because of this stuff, you know, all this money. He said this money from this settlement, it's probably, he's like, it's never gonna show up here. You know, most of it's gonna go to the attorneys and the rest of it's gonna disappear. What they need to do, he said was build a hospital or some kind of center.
[21:18] In the middle of this community, this entire community, whole part of west Charleston, they need to put something here to help these people, to educate them, to give them skills, to allow them to, to take a shower, allow 'em to have a, a clean place to come. A safe place cuz there's drugs in violence, in poverty, all throughout this neighborhood.
[21:37] It was a mind opening experience for me. And that was day three quick interruption. If you like what you're hearing here and you want to learn how you can implement this. Into your life. Just go to JimHarshawJr.com/APPLY to see how you can get a free one-on-one coaching session with me. That's JimHarshawJr.com/APPLY. Now back to the show, the end of day three, we went back on our low flow shower, had dinner on our plate. That dinner never tasted so good that evening. My son who loves to play piano. He found a piano, old piano, kind of their backup piano for the church tucked away in this little side room at the church.
[22:18] He loves playing piano. He started tickling the ivory. Unbelievable music came out of his fingers and people kept coming by to watch. He doesn't like to perform, but people kept coming by. People were videoing him and asking him questions. And if you go to my Instagram, you can find me at @JimHarshawJr on Instagram, you can see the video that I posted there is absolutely beautiful.
[22:37] That was day three day. The heat remained. We wake up and it's hot brutally hot again, but we start making visible improvements. We framed in the walls. We put in the subfloor. It was amazing. You're actually starting to see this thing, come to life. This porch turn into a room. It was gonna be a bathroom of these people that actually could use this bathroom and not have to struggle and strain and go through pain and suffering just to get up their steps.
[23:05] To go to the bathroom, we're gonna improve their home just a little bit, but they were so happy and so grateful. Rick and Dorothy were who we met with and we made these visible improvements. And here's the interesting thing that happened on day four. I started seeing pride. My boys started being proud of the work that they were doing.
[23:22] They framed a wall. Now they know how to, you know, lay out floors and lay out walls and 16 inch studs with 16 inch centers and build a header over a window. And they were taking pride in that. They were doing really freaking hard work, but there was pride. And at the end of the day, the guy who was in charge totally of our center of all the 70 people who were on 10 different construction sites, work sites, he started showing me pictures of other people and other projects that we're gonna be working on this summer.
[23:51] We were just there for a week. Every group is there just for a week and then you leave and another group comes in the next week. He said, well, here's someone who applied for our help showed me pictures, dirt floor. Dirt floors. And he wasn't even blown away by this. He had been doing this for years and he is like, yes, this is just what we see.
[24:05] People have dirt floors. People have no plumbing, no running water. This isn't some other country. This is in Mexico. This is America, the richest country in the world. People with dirt floors, people with no running water right in the city. I mean, most of the homes that they serve throughout Appalachia are very, very rural.
[24:22] This is the one urban center that they had the rate, even in the city, no running water. Dirt freaking floors unlivable that evening, that was Thursday evening. We went to a picnic instead of eating dinner in the cafeteria. They decided they take everybody out on Thursday and we have a picnic out of this local park.
[24:40] And I spoke to this woman named Kara. And she knew when she was a kid that she would always go and serve with as P she said, the older kids at the church, they always went and she knew that some day. So would she? And she said, She served at a home one time where this was years before she said, when they arrived, the family said that they had been praying for help.
[25:04] They had prayed for God to help them. And guess what? Kara. Her work crew showed up. She was literally the hands of God. Like whether you believe in God or Jesus or not, like she was literally the answer to their prayers. And I mean, this blew me away. It gave me chills. Give me chills, just talking about it to you right now.
[25:29] And I learned another story of a lady that same night at the picnic. I, I was told this other. From another person who had been serving with ASP for years. And she said there was a family who they served, where, you know, the, the husband was on disability. He was unable to work. And the wife was a, she had a job.
[25:49] She was a cafeteria worker. So they weren't making much money. And then he got sick to the point where he needed care throughout the day. So she had a choice, stay home and care for my husband or go to work and let him suffer. So I can bring home a paycheck as measly as it is. And then the car broke down.
[26:07] The car broke down, she couldn't get to work. She almost lost her job. She finally got her car fixed and then their home, their home was in such disrepair and they couldn't afford to fix things that their floor in their kitchen, they lived in a, in a mobile. The floor in their home. It was, there was only certain parts of it you could stand on because otherwise you would just sink through the floor.
[26:26] You would step through the floor is so soft and rotted and, and falling apart where they drew a map on the floor where you could just step on these certain parts where she woke up one night in the middle of the night to, to go to the bathroom and stepped in one of the wrong spots. Her leg fell through and she got injured.
[26:39] Couldn't work. Her husband is sick and on disability, the one measly, low paying job that she had, she couldn't even go to work. She lost her job. How do you break out of that? Like these aren't people who, you know, I think a lot of people say, ah, yeah, the poor people just don't they're not willing to work hard.
[26:59] No, these are hardworking people trying to get themselves out. They're not finding success through failure. It's easy for you and me to talk about that. But man, there's people were trying, these folks went from poverty to abject poverty. Like how in the F do you get through this? How do you get out of this?
[27:20] These, aren't just a couple of stories. Like there's thousands of stories like this. These are just from a couple of people who I met and told me these stories. There's another mind opening experience that night on Thursday, we came home Thursday after the picnic, my son found the piano and I just sat and listened to him play while this stuff all just sort of narrat marinated in the back of my head.
[27:40] And I listened to him play and I got a private, beautiful concert from him. It's a perfect ending to a day day, five final day. Wake up. It's hot again. But I realize there's something reminiscent of this experience that's happening throughout the week. I was in this bubble, like insulated from the outside world.
[28:00] When I go to the NCAA wrestling championships every year, like I go into this bubble, it's a three day competition. You're there for five days. Basically. You get there a day before you leave a day after. And you're in this bubble, like it's wrestling all day long. You're hardly checking the news. You're not working, you're not returning emails.
[28:15] You're just in this bubble, hanging out with your friends and looking, watching, wrestling, talking wrestling. And that was what was happening this week. We were in this bubble, this bubble where we were not doing a whole lot of screen time. We weren't checking our phones. We weren't following the news.
[28:30] There's something peaceful about being in this bubble. It was hard, hard work, but it was peaceful. There's something powerful about not living for myself for a week. Not thinking about what's important to me. I wasn't, I was working my butt off and not making money. I was on my vacation. There's something rewarding about sweating through my jeans by 10 o'clock every day.
[28:51] There's something fulfilling about seeing new floors and walls going up for these people who didn't have money and they didn't have to pay to see those walls go up. There's something powerful about serving in this way. And the words that I heard from that woman earlier in the week summer, wouldn't be complete without a trip with ASP.
[29:12] It started ringing my head and making a little bit of sense. You know, Friday, Friday started just like Monday through Thursday. Did. Every day started with a check in a check in with our project manager. It was a girl named Alexis. Alexis is a, I don't know, about a 20, maybe 21 year old college student at Roanoke college.
[29:31] She was my boss for the week and she was the boss of many other, several other work crews. Alexis was my boss. She was telling me how to build a gernerder. Tell me if I needed to reinforce some of the Jo with lag screws or ledger lock screws that we were using. She taught me a new technique for mixing.
[29:50] It evolved a tarp and a couple of people on each side of the tarp. I've been mixing concrete. I worked in a concrete plant. I worked on a concrete crew, pouring driveways. I mean, I worked on a framing crew, framing houses, and Alexis is telling me what to do. I was blown away by her every day. She'd have our building materials ready to go for the day.
[30:11] She's managing our project and a bunch of others. And then there was Colin. This is the guy with the suspenders and the rainbow CROs, Colin. Is the man. If I had some more technical questions, I could go to Colin as well and put, put another head together. Colin, also college kid, early twenties. He knew how to handle just about everything I could throw him.
[30:32] Hey, Colin, we're struggling with this. Hey Colin, do we have to, you know, do we have to put this board here? Do we have to frame this in? How do we frame that? Colin had it all understood. Great energy. He was fun, but not corny. Amazing. And then there was grant grant is the, he, this is still going on right now.
[30:52] As I record this, he's out there. He's in charge of the whole center, all 70 people, all the jobs are taking place. Grant's the man in charge of everything. If he had a real challenge building challenge, or otherwise you talk to grant, he was the site leader. He just graduated. He's made, I don't know, maybe 23, 24 years old, incredible leader.
[31:11] And then there was Sophia. She was the other staff member. She was on top of everything, keeping everything hum. And keeping everything. Together all college kids are just outta college running this whole freaking show. So that's how Friday started just like every other day. And now we worked again all day, but we got rained out, got rained out a little bit early and, and we're packing up the tools.
[31:32] At the end of the day, we had literally just gotten to a great finishing spot. Subfloors in new Joyce added ger footers port post installed. We put sheathing up for the walls, framed in a window. Header, installed everything done. That we wanted to get done for the week more than we thought we would get done this week.
[31:50] And we're packing up the tools and we rounded everything up and, you know, saw saws and jigsaws and everything else. And we're throwing back and throw 'em in my friend's truck and we're breathing hard. We're like running, we sprinted the truck, we close the door and it's pouring down rain. I mean, just cloudburst and I'm breathing hard.
[32:09] My boys are both breathing hard, Jesse and Wyat and. Wyat looks at me and says, dad, we should have gotten a picture eating a cracker in the rain and we both laughed. And I realized that Jesse and Wyat both boys were finding value in this. The experience was sinking in the lessons were sinking in and it was becoming an experience for them and not just something that dad made them do.
[32:37] And we sat there in the truck and we laughed. We were hot. We were sweat. We were wet from the rain. We were miserable, but this, this I realized was the crucible experience that I wanted them to experience. And in the end we completed what was planned for two and a half weeks of work. We got two and a half weeks of planned work done in five days.
[32:58] My boys, man, they hustled, they learned how to use a miter saw and a reciprocating saw a, a circular, saw an angle grinder and lots of other tools. They learned to mix concrete and pour footers and install a subfloor and build a wall with 16 inch center studs and frame a window and build a header. You may not know what I'm talking about with all this stuff, but guess what they do now.
[33:20] That's part of what they got out of this. And I learned as well. I learned that success through failure was real for us. I mean, we made bad cuts. We screwed things up. I screwed things up, you know, measure twice. Cut once, you know, measure once cursed twice, we fell into that a few times I had to let my boys fail in order for them to learn through this.
[33:42] I had to let them fail. I had to let them make bad cuts. I had to let them figure out how to get the screws. The three inch screws that we were using into the sub flooring. I had to let them figure out how to make sure they hit the joist instead of missing on either side. Right. I had to let them figure out how to get it flush.
[34:01] I had to let them figure out things instead of me telling them what to do success through failure happened all week long. I realized that this was a crucible experience that I didn't have to lead. Someone had already built this experience for me. We just had to show up and sure. I was leading this job.
[34:20] I was the, the person kinda running it at the work site. Alexis was my boss. Right. She would come and check in every once in a while, but I was the leader at the work site, but my boys were working alongside me and I was working alongside them rather than me being in front of them. I learned that. Doing hard things together is so much more rewarding.
[34:38] They had friends, they had buddies, they were laughing throughout the week. They had a bonding experience that can never, ever be broken and taken away from them. And I learned that you can lead from any position. College kids were, Alexis was my boss. She was awesome. Is awesome. She's out there doing it right now.
[34:55] She's somebody else's boss this week. She has to have new work crews every single freaking week. I don't know how she does it. Alexis and Sophia and Colin and grant. They're amazing. And I also got to meet Dave Kelly, hope Dave's out there listening. He ran sort of oversaw even things at a higher level multiple sites.
[35:12] And there was Abby as well. She was amazing. And so many of these young college students were leading us. I learned that one man can make a difference. So many homes and jobs and volunteers are happening right now. As you listen to this, ASP's out there serving, doing things. It all started by one man and it preacher named Tex Evans back in 1969, I'm gonna include a, a link to a 15 minute documentary.
[35:36] You can hear his voice and him talking about ASP. It's a fascinating short watch. And so we wrapped up Friday and we got off early, got showered up, cuz the rain, we had to wrap things up a little bit early and then we headed. We packed up our air mattresses packed up. Our bags, had a, a bag full of sweaty, nasty clothes and jeans from the week.
[35:57] It was disgusting. And I sent my boys home with the other father and their two buddies and I was headed the other direction. Cuz I was meeting up with some of my old high school buddies to go on a float trip, a camp and trip down to Potomac. The next day. So I had a four hour drive all by myself and I had this mix of weird emotions.
[36:16] This cocktail of emotions just swirling around in my head. Like I just drove in silence for two hours. I was, I had all these feelings. I was proud of my boys. I felt pride of proud of how hard they worked proud of how hard I worked and proud of us serving. I was happy that we could serve. So I felt pride.
[36:33] I felt, felt happiness. I also felt anger that this was happening in America. That people think that these people are lazy, they're working, they're hustling, they're doing what they can. Most likely. If you're listening to this, they were not raised anywhere in the same near the same environment that you were raised in.
[36:51] Not to say that you didn't have your hardships and troubles, but when you don't have walls in your home, you don't have money to go on vacation. You don't have some of them floors or running water. I was. I felt sadness that we were leaving. These people that we were done, all I gave 'em was five days, seven days, if you count to travel, like that's all we gave them.
[37:14] I felt hesitation. This was one of the biggest things I felt it was hesitation to leave this bubble. Like I didn't watch the news. It was, it was refreshing. I didn't spend a whole lot of time on the screens. I checked the emails at night and got caught up on things. And, and so do my boys, but it wasn't screen time, all day long.
[37:31] Right. I, I was hesitant to leave this great community of people. I was hesitant to leave because I loved having this quality time with my boys and I realized I'm gonna miss this. And I realized that Cara might be right that summer just wouldn't be the same moving forward without ASP, without Appalachia service project.
[37:54] And I felt hope. I felt hope that we could do more, that you can do more. You're listening to this right now. You don't have to do ASP. I'd love it. If you did, you would love it. If you. But you can do habitat for humanity in your own community. You can find other ways to serve. And I thought to myself, gosh, you know, I wish we could help more.
[38:15] It reminded me of a story. I heard Jordan burrows speaking one time at the, at, at an event he's an Olympic gold medalist wrestler. He said, and he told this story and you may have heard this story before about, um, it was low tide on a beach and there was a boy walking down the beach and there were, oh, there were thousands upon thousands of starfish laying out on the beach in low tide, just burning up, dying in the sun and the boy was walking along and he would pick up a starfish and he'd throw it back in the water and save.
[38:42] He'd bend down, pick up another one and he'd Chuck it out into the water and he'd save that one. And he kept doing that over and over. And an old man came walking along the beach and he, he said, son, he said, what are you doing? You can't make a difference. You can't save all these starfish. And the boy looked at him and he looked down at the ground.
[38:58] He bent down, picked up another starfish and he threw it into the water. He said, I just saved that one. And that's what we did. We helped, we helped one family for one week and it made a difference. It made a difference. Yeah. We succeeded at times. Yeah. We failed at times. There were things that we could have done better if I go back and do it again, there were things that we could do better.
[39:20] I'm better off for it. I'm better off for those failures for that struggle for that adversity. And so are my boys and I told you, I wanted you to get out of this episode was with three things inside information and inspiration, number one, insight into what it means to serve and, and what this organization called Appalachia service project is.
[39:38] You can go to ASP, home.org to learn more. I wanted you to get information. I told you about the poverty levels. I've told you about some stories about some of these people. The people who are serving and the families who are being served. And I wanted you to get inspiration. I want you to consider joining me and making an impact, wherever that impact is it can be right in your own community.
[40:02] If you wanna do it through ASP, go to ASP, home.org. If you are interested at all in, in giving to as P and you wanna maybe give to where we actually worked Kanawa county. Okay. Uh, you can go to ASP, home.org/give. Slash R C D. And that stands for restricted county donations, ASP home.org/give/r C D. And you can give to canal county and give directly to the projects that Alexis and grant in col and Sophia are overseeing this summer and give to the people who we served.
[40:43] But I encourage you to find ways that to give that are meaningful to you. If you do happen to make a gift, let me know. I would love to hear about your gift. I don't need to know the amount, but just let me know, reach out to me on email or social media. I'd love to hear about the impact that you make because of this message that I shared with you today.
[41:03] Take action. Thanks for listening. If you want to apply these principles into your life, let's talk. You can see the limited spaces that are open on my calendar at JimHarshawJr.com/APPLY where you can sign up for a free one time coaching call directly with me. And don't forget to grab your action plan.
[41:22] Just go to JimHarshawJr.com/ACTION. And lastly, iTunes tends to suggest podcasts with more ratings and reviews more. You would totally make my day. If you give me a rating and review those go a long way in helping me grow the podcast audience, just open up your podcast app. If you have an iPhone, do a search for success through failure, select it, and then scroll the whole way to the bottom where you can leave the podcast, a rating and a review.
[41:50] Now I hope this isn't just another podcast episode for you. I hope you take action on what you learned here today. Good luck. And thanks.
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