Years ago when I was a graduate student, a more senior colleague of mine wrote a letter of recommendation on my behalf for a job to which I was applying. He described me as someone with a "can-do attitude". As it was the first time that I had come across that expression, I stopped and lingered on the positive image that formed in my mind. It was around this same time that my research advisor commented that I seemed to be particularly adept at taking on and completing the most boring, thankless jobs. At first I was a bit insulted by this remark, but eventually I came to see that these two bits of feedback were saying essentially the same thing. I do what needs to be done with a positive spirit, regardless of how sexy or menial the project. In short, I step up when a job needs to be done.
I have always had a stick-to-it-iveness that many others don't, and I am not sure why I have this "gift". I dislike doing boring, repetitive, thankless work as much as the next person. However, I have always had the ability and mindset to kind of carry this sort of task through to completion. I guess I just understood that the grunt work is an essential and required part of completing any project. I don't know if this is a blessing or a curse, but I have always felt that recognition and renown weren't as important as taking care of business.
Even today, I still harbor the attitude that I wouldn't ask a co-worker or subordinate to do something that I was not at least willing to do myself. Many times over the years I have been down in the trenches getting my hands dirty on the tough, sweat-inducing, grinding work that is required in life to get the job done. One reward is seeing important projects brought to fruition. Another reward, perhaps just as important, is that over time you gain the respect of those you work with and around.