Mike Rowe has become the face of hard work in America, especially with the success of his Discovery Channel show, “Dirty Jobs.” For years now, he has been preaching in favor of hard work, the value of blue collar skills, as well as questioning the ‘inevitability’ of student debt and college degrees.
Rowe’s no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is style is refreshing in a cultural moment where so many are walking on eggshells, unwilling to take a stand for fear of being criticized or cancelled. Rowe’s advice: don’t do what everyone else is doing just because they’re doing it.
Once, when a father asked the TV star to encourage his 15-year-old son to do the work required to become an Eagle Scout, Rowe, an Eagle Scout himself, pulled no punches:
…the best decisions I’ve made in my own life are those decisions that put me on the outside of being cool. Singing in the Opera, working in home shopping, starring in the school play when the entire football team laughed at me, and especially earning my Eagle, were all choices that required sacrifice, hard work, and delayed gratification. I have no idea if you possess those qualities, or even envy them.
But I can tell you for certain, that NOT getting your Eagle, will be one of the easiest things you’ve ever done.
I have no idea if you would prefer an easy life of predictability and mediocrity, or if [you] have the passion to follow the road less traveled. Only you get to decide that.
Having passion is one thing. But as far as following your passion, Rowe says forget it.
Passion is too important to be followed around. …We all want to love whatever it is we do. But I don’t know that the best way to do that is to try to identify what they think will make them happy and then borrow whatever it takes to go get it.
If there was a recurring lesson on ‘Dirty Jobs,’ it was to understand how many people we featured on that show that looked like they were doing something that should have made them miserable, but were in fact very, very happy in their work, and surprisingly prosperous.
And it’s not just all talk. Rowe has put his money where his mouth is as his foundation, Mike Rowe Works, tries to ‘close the skills’ gap, giving away training-type scholarships and trying to change the narrative around work in America.
Rowe might be known for telling the truth about dirty jobs, but he has put his finger on a deeper need for truth-telling in the nation today, recently writing:
…our country today is suffering from a profound lack of trust in our public institutions. Today, more than ever, we need our journalists, our politicians, our scientists, and most importantly, our game show hosts, to tell us the truth.