What’s a Shit Sandwich?
(One of the 83 quick and practical life & work lessons from Sh*t Sandwich: Quick & Practical Success Lessons for Practically Anyone.)
Shit Sandwich? Is That Served With Or Without Mayo?
When you want something worth having, it’s not usually just sitting there for you to grab, right?
More often than not, you have to undertake some sacrifice, hardship or distasteful task in order to acquire anything worth having. The sacrifice, hardship or distasteful task is the shit sandwich. Stated another way: a shit sandwich is any unpleasantness that one must endure to achieve some common or personal good.
Notice the words “must” and “good” in this sentence. Shit sandwiches are a must if you want something good. You eat the shit sandwich, you get the prize. You don’t eat it, you get nothing.
Great employees eat a lot of shit sandwiches. Great leaders eat a lot of shit sandwiches. Great husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, boyfriends and girlfriends all eat a lot of shit sandwiches. Successful people – in work or in play – all eat shit sandwiches.
Notice this is in the present tense. You see, successful people not only ate a lot of shit sandwiches on the way up; they continue to eat them every single day.
I was a 28-year-old former Marine who had worked fulltime just to pay the bills in college when I first realized this. Of course, given my past, I (wrongly) assumed that I’d already made my sacrifices in life and that everyone else should be eating the shit sandwiches.
The CEO who told me “Stauning… sometimes you just have to eat a shit sandwich” when I was 28 actually ate more shit sandwiches than the rest of his company combined. Moreover, the shit sandwiches I watched him consume were six-foot subs compared to the dainty finger shit sandwiches the rest of us ate.
Why? As the CEO he dealt with partners, bankers, accountants, lawyers, suppliers, employees, union representatives and customers; and all of these people expected him to eat a shit sandwich every now and then.
To his credit, he ate every single one I ever saw him served. What’s more, he often smiled as he consumed these, because he understood that eating shit sandwiches came with the territory. Although he easily could have, he didn’t choose a safe, easy career where his tenure might be protected; no, he chose the entrepreneurial route; one filled with shit sandwiches.
The choice is yours: Eat or don’t. Succeed or don’t.