I first started working when I was twelve. I mowed neighborhood lawns, watered plants, house sat, dog sat, raked leaves, and shoveled snow. If anyone needed anything done in the neighborhood I was the first person they would call. I even made marketing material on my Apple IIe and printed them off on a dot-matrix printer. I learned the power of marketing early in my life and it has been entrenched in me since.
From a young age, I knew that I needed to work, I needed to make money, I needed to be a contributing member to society. At least that is what my family told me. I can remember my parents and my grandparents talk about work. It was ingrained in me from a young age that if you want something you have to work for it. I distinctly remember being around the campfire talking with my family about first jobs and each of my families journeys in their careers.
Stories of my Grandma being very proud of the fact that she was raised on the farm, moved to the big city of Seattle and became the very first female bank teller at Washington Mutual. Stories of my Grandpa leaving school in 6th grade to help support his family during the great depression. Eventually working for Roosevelts’ New Deal program, the Civilian Conservation Core, helping build the Vista House on Mt. Spokane. Eventually starting his own company, Imperial Data Supply, in Spokane, WA.
What wasn’t talked about in my family was WHY we work. I didn’t know why I worked, it was just the way things were done. It was a means to provide for myself, a means to get material things. My understanding of why came later in life. My favorite jobs were always in service to people. Whether that was selling radios to customers at Huppins, serving the finest quality meat from Egger’s Better Meats, working Front Desk for the Residence Inn by Marriott, to consulting on what kind of LASIK treatment a patient should have at Restore Vision Centers.
I was least content when I felt I was just a cog in the wheel of commerce. My work was less purposeful, I was not engaged at all levels. There was something missing. My family’s model of work was to put your head down and be as successful as you can. So naturally, that is what I did. I was in my mid-thirties before I figured out what was missing. The common thread between fulfillment, purpose, and happiness was for me to be in service to others.
My current position as VP of Commercial Operations at Skils’kin has given me the opportunity to be in service once more. Every day I get to work hand in hand with some of the most talented and compassionate people I know. I get to help set goals and build a high-performance team. I get the opportunity to build people up and reflect their best selves back to them. I get to be in service to my team, my company, my community. This is why I work.
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