Do Well. Do Good. More Than a Grammar Discussion.

Aaron P. Graft

September 1, 2013

“How did you do?”

“I did good.”

“No, you did well. Things are good; activities go well.”

I can’t tell you how many times my mom and I had this conversation. It happened often enough that I developed (or she instilled??) the questionable habit of correcting the grammar of others—much to the chagrin of my friends.

Fast forward several years and I am still annoyingly picky about grammar. Alas, it appears to be a losing battle. McDonald’s runs commercials with the tag phrase: “Every morning should start so good.” Commas do the work of periods. Apostrophes show up at random. You can imagine how many eyes roll at the office when I get on a soapbox about the difference between singular possessive and plural. I know it’s not going to change anyone’s life, but when ordering Christmas cards this year, please avoid apostrophes. You are the “Smiths,” not the “Smith’s,” unless you’re single and your card bears a picture of a dog you own wearing a Santa hat … however, I digress from the point of this post.

One of the things I have wrestled with since entering the business world has been the meaning of my work. I strive to be valuable to our organization and those it serves at every opportunity, but no one’s life depends on me. I do know many people who serve in ways where the lives of others literally depend on their work. For example, people have devoted their entire lives to freeing sex slaves in India, drilling water wells in Africa and South America, or serving the homeless in South Dallas. These individuals are on the front line and see vivid examples daily of the desperation that still exists in the world.

All of us want to be successful and most all of us want our lives to make a difference in the world – to do “good” works while living “well.” Hence, the phrase, “do well; do good.” I am sure someone else used this term long before me. I think it came to me as a result of the grammar lectures from my mom. Regardless of who first coined the phrase, as applied to my life and to Triumph, it is the best description of my priorities. I make no apologies for my underlying conviction in doing good works. It goes beyond the warm feelings of meeting a need and receiving gratitude in return. I am what the media sometimes calls a “born-again Christian.” Personally, I find that to be a redundant term and prefer to describe myself as a disciple of Jesus Christ. If I am his disciple, then I am compelled to follow his example in serving others—especially the poor and the outcast—and to have no regard for whether they are grateful for my effort or even know of my involvement.

It is not a requirement to share my worldview to work at Triumph. Indeed, there are many who do not. Regardless of religious affiliation, I think anyone can support providing clean water to those without, providing education and opportunity to those who will be paroled soon from prison, or supporting community development initiatives in the poorest neighborhoods.

This coming February, I will be leading a team of twelve people from Triumph to Acajutla, El Salvador to work with Living Water International to drill a water well for the local village. Beyond being a team building trip, this is part of our commitment to use a percentage of our corporate profits and our time to serve the less fortunate. In addition to corporate efforts, we also encourage our team members to get involved in their communities. I know that despite our individual and corporate efforts, Triumph alone is not likely to make statistically appreciable difference in the areas where we serve, but we can make a difference in the lives of a few. I believe in doing what you can, when you can, where you can, with what you have. So for every story of hope that comes in small or large part due to our efforts, we celebrate.

In sum, whether you are a banker, bricklayer, or an English teacher, perform with excellence. Do well at what you do. And whenever you have the opportunity, do good works for those around you, particularly for those who will never be able to pay you back. That’s a great thing, which, in my view, is an acceptable substitute for both “well” and “good.” I am sure mom would agree.