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Positive Thinker: Mike Rowe, Host of ‘Dirty Jobs,’ Author, Producer

Emmy-winning TV host and author Mike Rowe reveals his real-life heroes, his favorite inspiring Scripture, and the hardest thing he’s ever done

Mike Rowe; photo by Michael Segal
Credit: Michael Segal

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? That’s a surprisingly difficult question. Most of the things I’ve done that felt very difficult at the time now seem like minor challenges. A painful breakup, a high-stakes audition, overcoming a stammer, getting fit, losing every penny I had in an elaborate swindle…these and countless other challenges all felt harder when they were happening than they do today. I’ll go with finding a parking space a week before Christmas at Macy’s, pre-Covid.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? ”Duck!”

Who’s your real-life hero? For me, it’s regular people in extraordinary situations. I think of the men on Flight 93, in particular Tom Burnett and Todd Beamer. What kind of courage did it take for them to take control of that aircraft? Or the guys on that train in France, who took down the terrorist before he could start shooting?

Obviously, I admire soldiers and first responders and all those men and women who volunteer for risky work on my behalf. But I can’t really relate to those people because I don’t do what they do. But I have been on lots of planes and trains, and I often wonder if I would have had the guts to put everything on the line in those circumstances. Honestly, I hope I never find out.

What’s your favorite inspirational quote or Bible verse? It’s a toss-up between two Proverbs. The first is 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. It’s inspirational, but it’s also cautionary. Every time I’ve ever been honored, or congratulated or thanked or acknowledged in a way that makes me feel as if I’ve accomplished something all by myself, I try to remember the inexorable truth of 16:18, and the consequences of allowing my chest to puff up too much.

I also like 11:29. He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind. Along with the sentiment, which I think is universal and relevant, it also inspired the first play I was ever in—Inherit the Wind.

What occupation would you pursue if not your current one? Well, I’ve never really had a single occupation before. For the last 40 years, I’ve been a chronic freelancerwriting, acting, singing, hosting, narrating, and more recently, running a foundation. I’m attracted to anything that requires a measure of creativity, a broad-based understanding of multiple disciplines, and enough variety to make each day slightly different than the last.

I just never found any vocations that offer that mix, with the possible exception of farming. Today’s farmers are among the most creative, resourceful people I know. You simply can’t prosper without knowing a little bit about a lot of thingsclimate, nutrition, chemistry, land management, business, animal husbandry, veterinary science, banking…Most farmers I know never have the same day twice. And all of them are generalists.

What’s one thing you do for your spiritual well-being? I walk six miles first thing every morning as fast as I can. Usually takes me an hour and a half. I started this a few years ago, mostly for my physical well-being, and lost 40 pounds along the way. But then, I started to realize it was good for my spirit as well. Funny how those two things often go hand in hand.

The mind and the body. Fast walking looks funny, but it’s a great way to clear my head, catch up on a podcast, listen to new music, make some calls, and most importantly, think very deeply about nothing at all.

Read more: Mike Rowe on God’s gifts

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