There are days I dread getting out of bed and going to work.
I hate my job… well, maybe just dislike it… okay I hate it.
During the day I parade around town as a Home Security Installer for ADT. It falls a little short of my dream job, but I show up every day, do my absolute best to secure the homes of America, then collect my paycheck to finance my dreams. It certainly sounds like I’m bitching about my current means of income, but let me be very clear on one thing:
I may hate going to work every day, but it’s because I know my passion and purpose lie elsewhere, not because the work is beneath me.
Open Wide While Swallowing that Pride
Beginning a couple of years ago, I found it extremely difficult telling people what I did for work; I avoided it at all costs. The most memorable of those occupations was an outside sales position with Cutco Cutlery. Every time I opened my mouth to share my shameful little secret with others I felt compelled to jump into a 3 step explanatory process: 1) justify why I was working at this particular job, then 2) ramble on why it wasn’t as horrible of a job as it sounded, and finally 3) change the subject as quickly as possible.
“What do I do for work? Well, um, I sell Cutco knives. No, as a matter of fact I did not go to college for that, but good question… I’m just doing it right now to get back on my feet and in all reality it’s great sales experience and I get to meet a lot of people and really work on my communication skills so it’s actually not too bad… wow this hummus is splendid, isn’t it?”
I may have been in sales at the time, but I wasn’t selling anyone on the fact that I enjoyed my job.
I was embarrassed.
Deep down I felt that there was something utterly wrong about a 26 year old man with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture selling kitchen cutlery. Unfortunately I let that embarrassment change who I was.
No One Wants to Work with an Arrogant Asshole
After any encounter of that kind I would always be in a shitty mood, pissed off that I couldn’t be happy with my current situation. Later in the week I would show up to the Cutco office with a chip on my shoulder. Determined to prove to everyone that I was better than just a knife salesman, I would often abstain from team phone jams (calling prospects), isolate myself from the crowd, and act as if I had everything under control. It was no surprise that fewer and fewer of the top sales reps wanted to be around me.
I had successfully alienated myself from the select few who possessed the knowledge to help me excel at my job. I had become something I despised.
I see it a lot in my generation as well as in the next: a sense of entitlement. Former computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Randy Pausch, shares my sentiments for this growing dilemma. There is a section in Randy’s book, The Last Lecture, where he talks about his firsthand experience with young individuals about to enter the workforce:
“So many graduating seniors have this notion that they should be hired because of their creative brilliance. Too many are unhappy with the idea of starting from the bottom. My advice has always been: ‘You ought to be thrilled you got a job in the mailroom. And when you get there, here’s what you do: Be really great at sorting mail.’ No one wants to hear someone say: ‘I’m not good at sorting mail because the job is beneath me.’ No job should be beneath any of us. And if you can’t (or won’t) sort mail, where is the proof that you can do anything?”
I was never going to love being a Cutco knife salesman, but I didn’t have to love it to appreciate it. It truly was a great way to improve my communication skills, get me out of my comfort zone, and learn a little about building product value. I was finally able to see the benefits once I stopped protecting my ego.
As Long as You’re in it, Be The Best.
I think about quitting my job every single day, but I don’t. Why? Sadly enough, it’s because I need the money. Bills don’t stop coming just because I’m unhappy with my job.
But it goes beyond the bills.
I’ve come to the realization that any job I have working for someone else from this point on is merely a means to an end. I won’t be happy with any job until it’s the one I’ve created for myself; traveling the world teaching others how to enjoy the journey.
But I can’t possibly teach others something I don’t practice myself. And so it begins here, right now, at this moment, with this job.
I’ll continue to hate working for ADT, but the desire to achieve my goals will outweigh the hatred and I will enjoy every moment that takes me one step closer to my ideal lifestyle. I will show up every single day, intent on being the best, while providing each customer with exactly what they want and need. People notice a genuine desire to help. It could be one of my future customers that notices something about my work and offers me a helping hand. Then I’ll quit when the right opportunity presents itself. But it won’t be because the work is too hard or the job is beneath me. It will be at the point when my current occupation no longer serves me as a means to fund my own business; when it begins hindering my journey toward my dreams.
I don’t like work—no man does—but I like what is in the work,—the chance to find yourself. Your own reality—for yourself, not for others—what no other man can ever know.
– Marlow (from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness)
It’s not just about me and my job anymore; it’s about something bigger.
Enjoy The Journey
*featured image from discovery.com