How a Misunderstanding Changed my Outlook on Life

A couple decades ago, I was a high school student working at a family-owned restaurant (not my family, a local family). The place was the only buffet in town and I was a dishwasher. On Sunday, I would go to church, then go to work about noon. Sometimes I'd show up to find I was the first dishwasher on duty. Think about how many dirty dishes are used at your local Ryan's or Golden Corral on a typical Sunday morning, then think about them just piling up until noon and you'll have some idea of what I was walking into. It's not just the piles of plates, glasses, and silverware I would have to tackle--there was also the mounds of dishes the chefs had been using to make all the food since the wee hours of the morning.

For the record, the worst thing to clean was the pan the honey-baked ham was prepared in. I would soak it for a couple hours and still have to use a paint scraper on it.

Anyway, on those Sundays when I was the only person on duty, I had the double pressure of the chef's needing me to clean their tools and the customers wanting clean plates on the buffet (imagine that). On those days, one of the owners would walk back to the wash room and give me great piece of encouragement:

"You've got your work cut out for you."

Now, I was not familiar with the meaning of the idiom at the time and Google was still five years away, so I reasoned the meaning of phrase like this:

  1. Sometimes you have to do a task that requires you to cut something out as the first step (such as cutting and pasting in Kindergarten, or while building a model).
  2. If someone cut the work out for you first, it would make the rest of your job a little easier.
  3. Therefore, the phrase "You've got your work cut out for you" means that the task you have is not as hard as it could have been.

I would plod along with those sinks and dishwashers on Sunday afternoon, happy that, somehow, what I was doing was easier than it could have been. It wasn't until after my two-year stint at the job I found out what the phrase really meant, but it was too late...I had learned an important life lesson. Perception is everything.

Now, when I hear someone say my work is cut out for me, it triggers a feeling that the job is one that is easier than it looks. That feeling makes allows me to jump right in, which, in turn, makes the job go faster.

I am nothing special when it comes to being an indie author. I write, I edit, I ask for help, and I publish. The only big different between me and the guy who wants to do what I am doing with writing is the belief that the road to publishing is too hard. I assure you it is not too hard, your work has been cut out for you.