I’m Walking down a sidewalk of a small mall towards my morning cup of coffee. A young man empties a large trash barrel into the dumpster nearby, and starts rolling it along my path. I look him in the eyes and wish him a good morning. He says nothing. We walk together, side by side, for a few awkward seconds.
Suddenly he blurts out, “Work sucks!” As if by explanation, he adds, “I make $9 an hour and at the end of the week that’s $250 bucks and by the time I get it it’s all gone.”
He rolls his trash barrel to the rear door of the coffee shop and pauses. I stop too, and I look at him silently over the barrel. I’m thinking: That’s tough. I have a college degree, and a master’s degree, and I love what I do. I get to work with the most amazing people, and make the world a better place. In fact, my daughter once told me that I was her hero because I showed her she could earn a living and love what she does, both, without compromise. And I’ve been making six figures for a while.
Finally I said, “You gotta make a move.” And he smiled for the first time and said, “Yeah, I’m going to night school to be a plumber. They make a thousand a week.” “That should do it,” I agreed. “There is always plenty of work for any plumber I know that is good with his hands. Well, good luck.”
I hope you love your job. I hope it pays you well. If not, you need a plan. You need an exit strategy from your current job, and an access strategy to your future job. You can use your current job as a bridge while you pursue your dream job, if you know what it is. Or you can work with a career coach to discover what that might be, if you don’t.
Sure there are many obstacles to advancement in this country, but there is a lot of opportunity, too. If nothing else, you can fall in love with the dignity of your current job, and stop judging it, and yourself. Whatever choice you make, you are moving forward, no longer a victim. You deserve nothing less.
I like to think of my young friend not with his complaint on his lips, but with his smile on his face. That smile signifies a secret inside that you might not guess, looking at him in the back room standing with the trash barrels. It may not look like it, but he has a plan, a dream of something better, and he is working it.
What’s your dream? How’s your plan? Where’s your smile?
About Jay W Vogt
Jay W Vogt is an organizational development consultant, and author of Recharge Your Team – The Grounded Visioning Approach. Learn more at www.peoplesworth.com.