(This is a series of posts exploring my goals and direction for life…)
In my last post I came to realize that a lot of my problems with work outside of my job (although I wager it plays a role there too) is that when I create something, I don’t like to sell it OR support it. I’m sure I’ve come to this realization before, I mean I know I hate selling things, but I wonder if there is more to it than just a high level fear of selling. It must be psychological, so let’s explore some anecdotes that come to mind.
First Job – Newspaper carrier
I was a super lucky kid growing up. My parents supported me in so many ways and one of those was helping me to get a newspaper route when I was 11. The kid who had been delivering the papers for years in my neighborhood was graduating and luckily this was before the internet took off and the number of subscribers dropped to almost nothing (which then required a car to deliver the papers to make it worthwhile). My parents helped me create a habit of getting up early, counting the papers, and due to some weird circumstances often helped me deliver them (but certainly not in a “we don’t think you can do this” or “let me do this for you” way, but a “we love you and want to support you since this is something you care about” kind of way).
The route was relatively small, about 50 papers, and it didn’t pay a huge amount, but it taught me the value of money and how to give good service (and how that service was rewarded). Rather than throw the paper on the front porch, I would stick it inside the screen door (if someone had one). This turned out to be awesome because I would get comments and cards (with money) thanking me because the paper didn’t blow away, was protected from the weather, and the person didn’t have to go outside in their underwear to get their morning news. I was providing a service that people cared about and I was proud of the way I was doing it.
The way a paper route worked, was basically a small business. Technically, I would buy the papers from the paper company, and then would sell them to the subscribers. Most of the customers by this point paid their bill directly to the paper company and so I only had to collect from 5-10 homes. This meant that my bill for the papers was covered and the company would periodically send me a check, so what I collected from the customers was all my own. The issue was, I HATED to collect, and looking back, I believe this is the first hint of my “why” we are trying to answer. I was providing a service to people who specifically signed up for it. They knew how much it cost (which seemed like a lot at the time but looking back makes me laugh) but I didn’t like asking for money. In fact, there were a few times where I waited a long time (6-8 weeks) in-between collecting and would lie and remove a few weeks of the tabs because I didn’t want to ask for that much money. At the time I considered it a tax for me being lazy I guess. Looking back, this practice actually caused me to undervalue the work I was producing and worry a lot about what others think of my work.
I think that is a good topic for my next post…