Twitter is absolutely in love with the number 7. From #7FaveMovies to #7FaveBands, Twitter just loves anything that includes the number 7. And thus was born #First7Jobs. Everyone chimed in and talked about their time as a newspaper delivery person or babysitter or lawnmower. And then it took a turn. People began to question why anyone would care about these jobs. Do we value ourselves differently because of how we made our first buck? Does what we did 3 or 4 or 5 or 7 jobs ago matter? Well, here’s what I think.

I think that something can be gleamed from almost every single job you’ve ever had. Maybe that little corner store you worked at had a boss with an interesting take on things. Maybe you delivered newspapers to someone who lived an interesting life and shared it with you. Maybe you learned a process that you’ve used in subsequent jobs. Whatever it is, I believe there is value in all things. My favorite author, Dan Millman, has based his entire career off a very simple phrase; “There are no ordinary moments.”

My very first job was picking strawberries. What did I learn from picking strawberries for a summer? Honestly, I learned that I never wanted to do anything like that ever again. Oh, and I also learned that having a co-worker that you like can make even the worst job bearable.

I don’t think that most jobs are good or bad. I feel that most of them are basically neutral. I think that it’s the PEOPLE at these jobs that make or break it. I believe that a great manager can make a relatively lousy job enjoyable. I think a good work ethic can turn a boring job into a challenge. And I think that we pay careful attention to rates of pay rather than quality of work.

I’m NOT someone who thinks that people deserve higher salaries, in most cases. The fact is that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE is the person who came up with the idea for this business and executed. I do think that people deserve a fair wage and I do think some people should probably get paid more than they do. But I’m also kind of a fan of this whole “capitalism” thing.

I find it difficult to balance my work with communities and NFP’s with my life as one of two entrepreneur’s in our home. I think it would be AMAZING if we lived in a world where money didn’t matter. I’d still work. I’d still probably write and I’d help people. But the thing is that money DOES matter, at least to some extent, thus we have this balancing act.

So we spend our time trying to get “better jobs” when most of the time we don’t truly understand what a better job would be. I have a coaching client that was working for a small firm. She hated her job. Loathed it. Most of what we talked about was how she couldn’t wait to leave. As we started working together she got an interview for a job that she was really interested in. She was offered the job and was dismayed to find that the job wouldn’t really pay her any extra and in fact, once you figured in parking, might actually pay her a little less. So she wasn’t sure if she should bother. So we talked.

We talked about job satisfaction. We talked about feeling valued at work. We talked about enjoying the company of the people you work with. We talked about feeling like you’d done your best work. We talked about doing work that we felt mattered. And then we talked about salary. She’s not scraping by. She’s doing ok. Money is not something she NEEDS more of, but rather something that she WANTED more of. So after our conversation she decided to take the job. And now everyday she tells me how happy she is at her new job.

Here’s the thing. You’re not defined by those #First7Jobs but I think it’s fair to say that you’re partially formed by them. I am NOT a strawberry picker. But picking strawberries for a summer taught me a lot about myself. It taught me what I was willing to do and what I wasn’t.

What do you LOVE about what you do? What do you HATE about what you do? Do you think those things will change if you had a different set of 7 jobs or do you think that your work experience has a lot to do with who YOU are as a person? I think if you replaced “dishwasher” with “account executive” or “babysitter” with “CEO” you’d still find that your experiences weren’t that different. At the core, all jobs are the same. They’re about people doing something they probably wouldn’t do for free, for someone who is willing to pay not to have to do it for themselves.

You are not your job. You never have been. You never will be. Now get to work.

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