Believe in Yourself?
My Workplace Miracle
© Burt Dubin
The belief in what I can do sustains me. It sustains me through
many crucibles. Through many crucibles in the years that follow.
Hereís how it happens: At 17 I quit high school. Itís not
that I want to quit in my senior year. Itís my father. He
ups and leaves us flat with no notice. No notice and no money.
The ďusĒ is my Mom, me, and my 2 little sisters. Thereís no
means of support. No cash to pay the rent. And the food
. And all the rest.
So I take action. I quit high school. I go to the
nearest large factory. It happens to be RCA, in Camden,
New Jersey. I lie about my age. They believe me. They believe
me because they need people now. Thereís a war on. They
only know they need people to do the essential work. They
need people now.
An electronics enthusiast, I bump myself up. Up and off the
assembly line in just a few weeks. I get myself assigned to
the Test Cage. The Test Cage is electronically isolated from
the rest of the world. No signals can enter. No signals can
I love working with the CRT, the early computer monitor,
the various meters and the alignment tools. Itís a Union Shop.
Did you ever work in a Union Shop? If so, youíll recognize
what follows. The Shop Steward works along with everybody
else. And he watches everything with the object of protecting
and preserving jobs.
My job is to test and align electronic equipment destined
for the USA Department of Defense. The Time and Motion Study
folks have established 45 minutes as the allowed time to complete
After a few weeks, I figure out how to do this job in 15
minutes. And I do. Instead of turning out 12 procedures per
8 hour shift, I do 36 complete procedures. The Shop Steward
has a little talk with me. I resist his recommendation that
I slow down. Thereís a war on, I tell him.
Heís not happy. So he gets 2 engineers, guys with white shirts
and neatly pressed navy blue trousers, (You know the type,
their suits come with 2 pair of pants!) to visit me. They
donít just visit. They bring their yellow legal pads. They
stand behind me. They stand behind me for 2 full shifts. When
one has to visit the bathroom, the other watched me with eagle
After the 2 shifts, 16 hours of observing my every move,
they file a Report. In essence, they say, ďthe kidís right.Ē
(I, a late bloomer, was not even shaving yet.) The kidís right!
This means they rewrite the procedure. Now my every motion
becomes the prescribed motion for the whole 30-person group.
And they require someone to train the other in this simpler
Who do yaí think they pick. Iím the only one available. So,
at 17 I show the 29 others what to do and how to do it.
Wait, thereís more. They bump me up. off the line, to new
responsibilities. Iím now the Troubleshooter for the whole
group. This means when someone runs into a problem, they call
on me to solve it.
When I canít figure out what to do, I go to the Shift Supervisor,
Dick Baker. Heís from Green Bay, Wisconsin. His religion is
football. The Green Bay Packers are his heroes. His Gods.
Every other word out of his mouth is Green Bay. (Youíve met
the type.) He always solves the problem.
Hereís the scene: Iím hunched over a work station. Iím staring
down the CRT and the perplexing problem. Dick Baker, a few
feet away, quietly speaks to the person heís with: ďThat
young Burt is so good at what he doesóhe never has to call
on me for help any more.Ē
Iím moved by those words. (They prove to be magic words.)
Someone believes in me. Someone believes Iím better than I
know I am. Maybe heís right. Letís find out.
I scrunch down addressing the problem. The sweat pours from
my brow. I break through and solve the problem. I never have
to call on Dick Baker for help ever again.
Because someone believes in me, I tap into a power I
never knew was there. Now I believe in myself. I believe
in my power to transcend perceived limits. This proves to
be my workplace miracle!
Ever since that tender moment, thanks to Dick Baker, thanks
to one person believing in me, Iíve shattered perceived limits
again and again.
ďThink you can, think you canít, either way youíre right.Ē
So said Henry Ford. And you, dear Reader, can transcend the
perceived limits of your life.
Simply believe in yourself
and your power.
Do what you must to create
the conditions and circumstances you desire.
Thatís all it takes.
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© Burt Dubin
Permission is granted to reprint this article
in your newsletter or magazine with the following byline:
Dubin works with people who want to be speakers
and with speakers who want to be masters.