I have had a long love affair with work. Starting when I was 13 years old and my first job washing dishes to the present day, work has always been a big part of my life. It has been such a powerful, positive force that I have never dreaded work, looked forward to the weekend, or hated getting up on Monday mornings.
- Fed me: Very early on, work fed me. Even while raising four children by herself, and even after refusing to take welfare or food stamps, I never went without food. At 13 years old, I started washing dishes at an Italian banquet center, and my diet changed. Each day I worked, I was provided with prime rib or lasagna, salad, and chocolate mousse. I also had money to eat when I wasn’t working.
- Shaped character: When you work, people count on you. You show up and do your job. I have called into work one time in my life, and that was the day after I had a Gran Mal seizure and required brain surgery (I still haven’t gone back to that job). You also notice that some people avoid work that they build up in their mind as being particularly unpleasant. Those tasks are never as bad as they make them out to be, and I learned to volunteer for work that others avoid.
- Provided me with an income: In my teens, I worked more hours than some adults. I didn’t have any money, and I wanted things. So, I worked. Work provided me with the money to provide for myself, even when I spent a whole paycheck buying tickets to see Kiss, Def Leppard, and Whitesnake. Money provided experiences that would have otherwise been out of reach.
- Provided opportunity: Work has always delivered opportunity. When I did well at one job, like washing dishes, I was promoted to better jobs, like chief bellman. When I worked as a recruiter, I was provided the opportunity to sell. Success there provided the opportunity to lead salespeople, then whole companies, and then entrepreneurial endeavors. How you feel about work and how much of yourself you give to it determines what opportunities you create.
- Insisted I grow: Work forced me to grow. In almost every case, it required more of me than I thought I was capable of at the time. It stretched me and caused me to change my beliefs and change my actions to change my results. It forced me to study, and to learn the skills that could shore up my deficiencies. Your work is an opportunity for growth.
- Taught me to understand people: One of the best things about work is the ongoing training you receive in understanding people and human behavior. You rub against all kinds of people, from all kinds of places, with different ideas, different beliefs, different attitudes, and different experiences. Work will teach you to understand other people and to see the wide variations in human behaviors.
- Actuated my purpose and meaning: Over time, and taking longer than I should have to recognize it, work actuated my purpose. It helped me recognize the contribution that I am here to make, and that sped me on my path. If you want to make a difference in other people’s lives, your work will allow you to do so—if you are willing to give that part of yourself over to it.
- Take care of and feed other people: Work can help you take care of people, and not just your family. If you start or grow a business, your success can create work for others, and that work can help them provide for their families.
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