A few years ago, when my youngest son Keegan was in preschool, the teachers asked the students in his class to describe the kind of work their fathers did. The teachers then wrote the responses on paper and pinned them to the classroom wall. Most of their quotes were cute: "My dad sells money," and "My dad figures stuff out."
Here's what Keegan said about me: "I've never seen my dad do work."
I suppose that shouldn't have come as a surprise, considering that I make my living doing something that my sons see as fun and that I obviously enjoy. Only occasionally—when a demo ramp sucks, for example, or I have to perform with a tweaked ankle—does skateboarding itself feel like "work."
I'm acutely aware that I've been very, very lucky in my career, and that much of my success has to do with being at the right place at the right time. And in recent years, after traveling to places like Sierra Leone and Cambodia, I've grown increasingly grateful that I don't have to sort trash or sell rags to feed my family. There are 12-year-olds mining diamonds in West Africa for pennies a day; I've made millions by riding a skateboard. It's one of those cosmic absurdities, and I try hard not to lose sight of it.
So while I don't have to "do work," as Keegan put it, I have tried to develop a work ethic. For example, if I ...