For my first job, I was paid $4.85/hour working as an ice cream server at Dairy Queen. I was 14 years old. My grandmother committed to matching my saved paychecks to buy school clothes at the end of that Summer. While my checks were very small - I felt so much pride at cashing each and every check. I had my own money to spend at the gas station, local game centers, or at the little Southwest Michigan city festivals that are so prevalent in the summertime. When the end of the Summer came around, I was able to indulge on bigger brands and more outfits than usual while shopping for clothes.
A few years later, I found myself waking up at 3AM on Saturdays to drive with a local farmer to a green market in Chicago - it was a 3 hour drive there and back. When we arrived to the market, we set-up a tent, tables, and our hometown harvest. The market was busy - I worked hard. You had to multi-task, talk to customers, count money, weigh fruit and veggies, and add up totals in your head. But I loved it. The best part about the end of the day was packing up and counting the money. We always did it in the truck on the way home. I was paid $50 for each trip. Once, I was tipped $10, but couldn't tell anyone about it. There was an incredible feeling created each time I stuck that $50 bucks in my pocket. I had worked hard for it.
Since then, I have found myself in all types of roles. I've been a janitor, a bartender, a waitress, a telesales representative, a cashier for the local tool store, gas-station, and boutique store at the mall. For a few years in college, I worked in IT support cleaning viruses of computers. Ugh, I hated that job - but I loved the people and it paid well ($8/hour) - so I still did it anyway. Every job I have ever had, I put in 150%. I was committed to outwork anyone around me.
Here I am 20 years later and I still feel the same way about my paycheck. What's interesting, is that the size doesn't matter. While I obviously prefer large checks - a few weeks ago, I found myself excited about a $27 check from Uber. Every dollar still tickles me! I became a Local Guide with Google because I save $120 a year on data storage. I operate my professional services company with clients in all fields - from IT software companies, to gun ranges, medical marijuana, to website project management. I adore the diversity of HOW to earn money rather than the amount I earn for each project.
So why am I strolling down the memory lane about the pride of earning money??? Well I own an art business (check us out - The Sandbox People). We do mostly events with a tent and a table - just like the farmers market from when I was a teenager. My daughter attends the events with me.
At our last event, we were swamped. It was a children's carnival at an elementary school. It was fantastic because everyone wanted to make a piece of art. I didn't bring a helper with me thinking that it would be a slow event. Zepplyn was my only help. She's only 9 but she's a pro at creating the art. She jumped right in to the crowd - talking to customers, counting money, making sand imprints, mixing the milk. She was the perfect right-hand! At the end of the event, she counted our earnings, deducted the cost of the event, and calculated our net profit.
We were busy but had not made a ton of money. I was a little disappointed. That's when I saw it.... The pride in her eyes. My daughter Zepplyn was PROUD of working hard and generating a profit. I paid her $25 for her efforts. She was absolutely tickled to stick it in her purse. Her effort had paid off and I scored good parenting points. I hope the feeling is something that sticks with her the same way it has stuck with me.
So to sum it all up, I think that success is appreciating the value of every dollar earned. Regardless of what you are doing, it all boils down to a good a ole-fashioned work ethic. Work hard, play hard!
Do you get a similar feeling? What drives you? I'd love for you comments below!