When I was 14 I worked part-time at a local pub. It was my first experience earning an hourly wage and it was pretty exciting. On my lunch break I would sit and day dream about all the things I wanted to buy with my hard earned money. The job was mundane and the tasks were repetitive, but I was working for the money and that’s what kept me motivated. I watched the clock carefully made sure I was out of there the minute my shift finished.
A year passed and I came back that summer to work again. I already knew what tasks I had to do and how long it would take to complete each of them. The only real challenge I had was getting there. During my lunch break I’d sit near the bar where I could see everything that went on; watching the barmen work and the droves of customers as they came.
Something caught my attention one day. It was a late Sunday afternoon and the place had mostly emptied so I chatted with the barmen while I finished my lunch. One of them was busy re-organising the bar, while the other did the usual tasks and idled. I asked why he was re-organising the bar and he replied “These drinks are more popular this summer, so I need them up front“. The difference here is that one of the guys liked what he did and wanted to do it better, which also made the bar a place where he enjoyed work. The other barman simply did what he was paid to do and nothing more. He was also working for the money, like me…
The next day I came to work with a different attitude. I was going to be there for another 3 months and wanted to turn a mundane job into a fun one, so I decided to challenge myself. I started to take pride in how I stocked the bar, making sure the bottle labels face out and created a systematic approach that reduced the time it all took. Not long after I started having fun and enjoying what I did, knowing that I gave it my everything. It didn’t take long before I stopped watching the time and instead, learning and improving.
I became a barmen before that summer ended and continued to work there for another six years until my second year in college. By the time I finished I had learned so much more than I ever thought my job there could teach me. Changing my attitude that day was crucial in that it showed me that what I was doing for myself was far greater than what I did for my employer, which made me a happier person and a much better employee.
Soon after I started that part-time job I also began my adventure as a programmer. The lessons I was fortunate to learn at such a young age, set the course for where I am today. I now work at Engine Yard, as an Application Engineer, with some truly amazing people that share this passion and motivation. A team with that kind of drive, attitude and passion makes it possible to do some seriously amazing things.
A quote inspired me to write this post and I feel it sums up my experience perfectly.
If you’re doing it for the money, you’ll always be underpaid – Scott Bell