All labor brings a profit, as it should. We use that profit to provide the basic necessities for living, to purchase items we want and to create more profit by investing in the marketplace. The desire to take care of ourselves and build wealth is a huge reason we work each day.
However, the term “profit” can convey more than just financial gain. We also use that term to describe how something is beneficial or will give us an advantage in some way. For example, it would not be profitable for me to drive in the wrong direction on the freeway. It would be deadly!
So in relation to work, personal profit could mean more than just money. Through work we can also learn about ourselves. We learn about relationships. We learn about influence, perseverance, and sacrifice. We learn, in many ways, simply how the world operates.
I’ve had eight jobs in my life and each one taught me a different, valuable lesson. So here are the life lessons I’ve learned from work, from my first job to my present one.
Job #1 – Weekly paper route
There is a lot of behind the scenes work the consumer never sees. That paper doesn’t magically show up on the doorstep each morning without being written, printed, picked up by the delivery boy, folded, bagged, double-bagged in case of rain, and lugged in a shoulder bag (or in my case a wagon) from house to house.
Job #2 – Daily paper route
When I started my daily paper route I realized the more you work the more you get paid. (I also found out that collecting money from subscribers was a hassle, especially when they think the bill is wrong.)
Job #3 – Concession stand worker at community swimming pool
I learned how to be as efficient as possible in order to move customers along quickly. Those lines for French fries and soft drinks can grow to be mighty long in the middle of the afternoon.
(I also learned the grossness that goes on in a commercial kitchen. I won’t share that now because you might be reading this over lunch at Applebees.)
Job #4 – Concession stand supervisor at community swimming pool
Besides managing product, I learned that there is NOTHING more important in life than orderliness and cleanliness (Of course that’s an exaggeration but it didn’t seem that way when the health department dropped in.) I think that lesson plagues me to this day.
Job #5 – Lifeguard at community swimming pool
When I was young I thought the lifeguard job looked so cool. You get to wear a swim suit to work while sitting in the sun all day and getting a tan. And the lifeguard always gets the girl. That’s what I’m talking about!
What I really found out when I became a lifeguard was even jobs that look really glamorous could be a tedious and boring. Eight hours a day in the hot sun whistling at children breaking the rules all of a sudden didn’t seem so glamorous. And I don’t know why I had thought the lifeguard always gets the girl. I didn’t see any of that action.
Oh, and they don’t tell you in lifeguard training school that you also might have to come in early to suction sweep the pool bottom, spray the deck area, check the chemicals in the water, conduct swimming lessons for little kids, mow the lawn around the pool, empty the trash and clean the bathhouse.
Job #6 – Construction worker
Although this was a lot of hard work, I really enjoyed it. Something about it clicked with my spirit.
Constructing custom homes taught me that I love building things and seeing a project through to the end. Finishing a house was a goal that brought a lot of personal satisfaction to me.
I also gained many valuable carpentry skills that have saved me a ton of money as I do my own projects around the house. I believe it’s also the reason I have developed a love for rental real estate as a side business.
Job #7 – Sales Associate at a sporting goods store
I really had to work at being a good salesperson because I am a natural introvert. But even an introvert who can demonstrate passion and knowledge about a product and give the customer great service can be a success.
Job #8 – Education
16 years in education cannot be adequately summed up in a few short sentences. Maybe one day I will write an ebook. However, I can boil the big lessons down to these:
1. Don’t expect to see results overnight. Educators must think long term with their students and peers.
2. Take time to rejuvenate your mind and body. Burn out will come quickly if you don’t because the job is so demanding.
3. Leadership is mostly about influence and leading by example. Fail at either of these and you can’t adequately lead.
That’s it for me. If I have any other jobs in the future, I hope they teach me lessons as good as these.
What is the best lesson you have ever learned from a job?
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