You may be surprised to hear this, but I consider myself an author. For this blog alone, I’ve almost certainly typed more than 150,000 (one hundred and fifty thousand) words, maybe more, maybe less. I would be astounded to learn the number is under a hundred thousand, and I’m really just getting started. I have a great deal more that I have every intent to add to my posts here.
What do I get paid to do this at this point? Nothing! You heard that correctly, at this point, I write strictly for the joy of doing so, and to pass along a series of messages in the form of thousand-word-apiece statements.
I would love to get paid for what I do. I would immensely enjoy it if I could survive off my writing. It never gets old for me and I greatly enjoy spending the time I do in front of the keyboard.
One of the things that just about every writer has heard at one time or another is, “Write to your strengths.” Sometimes it’s termed slightly differently as, “Write what you know.” I try to follow this advice. If I don’t know about it, I try not to write about it (though sometimes I must).
That being said, I hope it’s not a strange concept to you, that I’ve spent a large portion of my life working for others in various businesses. I started life like so many. I worked in a sport, toy, and book store. I stocked in an Asian handicrafts store. I helped out at a flea market, I toiled as the “kitchen help” in a pizza restaurant. I potted, watered, and did other things in a plant nursery. I cleaned floors and counters as a cleaner (many would call it janitorial work). After all of that (just in my teenage years), I spent nearly ten years as an Airman in the United States Air Force.
For half that time, I worked as a Materiel Facilities Specialist (read here, “supply warehouseman”), and for the other half as a Communications/Computer Systems Operator.
For a short time after leaving the military, I worked as a mainframe operator, before branching into microcomputers.
From there, I bounced around a bit, but ended up working as a software developer for various entities.
The point is, my beginnings were as humble as you can imagine, regardless where I ended up.
I swept more floors than you would probably believe. I kept stock (not alone, mind you, as part of a team) in warehouses that maintained parts for aircraft among other things. I mopped. I cleaned bathrooms. I painted when needed. I cleaned parking lots. All the joyous things one does not being of high birth.
Did I love everything I did? Far from it!
Were I a betting man, I would wager that’s the case for ninety percent of everyone you know. That includes business owners.
Something(s) happen(s) along the way, and we end up in places that we never dreamed we’d be (okay, maybe some do imagine themselves there, but I mostly didn’t). I know the look people in “lower stations” give me at times (not all, and not always). It amounts to, “What did he do to deserve that car, to own a house, to be paid so well?”
Looking at the things I’ve said above may give you a part of the wisdom you seek. One thing I did, was work. Sometimes I worked quite hard, other times, not so much.
Another thing I found it needful to do, is to be an ambassador rather than an employee. What’s the difference? Allow me to use a small illustration.
I was out and about, getting ready to pick up dinner for my son and myself. He’s Moderately Autistic, so his diet is very limited. We passed a restaurant we used to frequent and he expressed an interest—even though we had already determined we were going elsewhere—to eat what that restaurant was known for serving (I knew him at that point to be saying essentially, “Daddy, I want to eat there for a change.”).
I turned around as quickly as possible, so that I could get back to the venue in question. After all, I hadn’t eaten what they made for some time, and was happy that he was interested in doing so.
I want it understood that, at this point, you must wear a mask in most restaurants as a matter of governmental mandate. I know that the employees of the restaurant have zero choice in that unless they want to flout local ordinances.
As such, it was no surprise when an employee who happened to be sitting outside said something to the effect of, “You have to be wearing a mask to enter.”
I asked—after that—a simple question. It was basically, “Then can I either enter the lobby and order, then go outside or sit in the waiting area and wait for my food after paying?” The person’s answer was a simple, “No.” What I was trying to get to is, “Can we find some way for me to order and take the food away?”
At that point, there was little I could do, but leave. I was going to go back to our original plan, but thought the better of doing that. “My son wants a change,” I reasoned, “and I do as well.”
So I called another location and asked the same question. The answer? “Oh yes! We can do phone ordering and curbside pickup!”
Over to the other location we went. The transaction was tedious for everyone, but the staff did what they had to do, and I responded gratefully.
This is the difference between being an employee and an ambassador.
Had the person at the closer location chosen to do so, she could have taken my order (and I wouldn’t have complained if I had to wait for a time), taken a card for payment and all would have been right with the world.
Because she chose to act as she did—to shut me down without any real recourse regardless her ability—It’s questionable I will ever again, darken the doors of that “branch of” that chain. The one who worked with me, who found a solution, who got me what I wanted without breaking regulations? They will almost certainly see me again at some point.
You may not think you have that kind of power; to lose business for your employer, or cause the entity to thrive. Let me assure you, you do; your choices may mean the difference between having a place to go to work every day (wonderful or not), and watching a business’ doors close, never to reopen. Should you aim to be an ambassador, or just an employee? You decide. Just remember, decisions and the actions that follow have consequences.
Thanks for reading and may your time be good.