Why No Job is Beneath You

Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'”

Many today suffer from un- and under-employment. Though there are many who are begging for work, there are many who are working and give no respect to their job. Since so many today do not have the “dream job” they desperately think they want, they often despise their job, their boss and the people they work with. Due to this mindset many often close themselves off to the opportunity that job or task may teach.

Every job has value. It is adding to the overall product or service that is being delivered to a customer. You may not want to be the janitor, but without a clean establishment will many customers return? You may not enjoy having a smile on your face every day as customers complain, but good customer service skills are the foundation of many great companies today and when lacking customer service skills can cause a company to go bankrupt.

As we grow Debt Free Guys with little income, for now, we continue to do what many would view as me-nial and administrative tasks. We do data entry and reporting. We answer and respond to custom-er/reader emails and comments, some of which are complaints and corrections. We sift through more junk mail that should be legal. Mostly, we wake and start work before sunrise and work well past our bed-time for little financial return confident in knowing that our efforts will pay off soon. Our ability to do all this and wake up early and stay up late to work, work, work was fostered by what many would consider crappy jobs.

•  Matthew McConaughey literally used to clean up crap; he cleaned chicken coops
•  Before he was Wolverine, Hugh Jackman was a clown at kids parties

“Opportunity? Often it comes in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.” – Napoleon Hill

David swept and buffed grocery store floors in the middle of the night when he first graduated high school. John washed dishes for several restaurants as his first few jobs. The jobs seem tough enough, but often the toughest part of the job was the people for whom we worked. John was yelled at by his first boss because he used a whole sheet of paper towel, rather than half to clean a bathroom mirror. At the time, he perceived his boss as a cheap, old man. Now we get excited when we can cut any Debt Free Guys’ expense in half.

Many teenagers and millennials who can find a job are lucky even if their job isn’t what they actually want to do or why they went to school. Each of these jobs, however, teaches at least one lesson. The lesson may not be apparent today or may seem like the exact opposite of a lesson, but with an open and appreciative mind, the lesson will eventually come.

•  Ellen DeGeneres used to sell vacuums before she got her own TV show
•  Before becoming the Queen of Pop Madonna used to sell donuts at Dunkin Donuts

Many rich and famous people throughout history started from the very bottom and leveraged what-ever opportunity and lessons they could to climb the ladder of success. Today’s economy is a tough one to be sure, but success is possible and eventually the economy will turn around. When the opportunity comes, hopefully you will take full advantage of the lessons you have been provided. Remember when many companies are first starting, the boss has to do all the jobs; sales, customer service, janitor and bookkeeper.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca (First Century Roman Philosopher)

•  Packing groceries was Oprah Winfrey’s first jobs as a grocery store clerk
•  Jennifer Anniston used to be a telemarketer before building her entertainment empire

What first jobs have you had and what lessons have you learned from them that you use in a different job today?

Comment List

  • simon cave 19 / 08 / 2014 Reply

    Great article guys! To be successful you need to do things other people don’t what to do 😉

    • John Schneider 20 / 08 / 2014 Reply

      We agree. Sometimes it’s not pretty, but it’s important. Thanks for reading!

  • Anne @ Money Propeller 19 / 08 / 2014 Reply

    Excellent points. I think you hit on one aspect of crappy jobs that makes them important… when you’re good at them, you dont’ often stick around. Sometimes the people that are only mediocre at them are the ones who do stick around for a long time and end up in lower management. They may not have the skills (for example: communication skills in regardless to the paper towel incident) that could get them ahead.
    Overall, though, like you said, every job is very important.

    • John Schneider 20 / 08 / 2014 Reply

      Exactly! Sometimes you just need to hang in there and tough it out. Something can be learned from every job, even if what you learn is what not to do. Thanks for commenting!

  • It’s important to take any job seriously and with a good attitude, because it may just lead to your next opportunity.

    • John Schneider 21 / 08 / 2014 Reply

      Brian, so true. There are many stories of people who were noticed because of their hard work and attitude in a less than desirable situation and that is what allowed them to be promoted beyond those they were previously reporting to. It also develops character and the ability of leaders to say, "I was there too once."

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Maria Nedeva 22 / 08 / 2014 Reply

    I’ve always believed that it doesn’t matter what we do; we have to do it to a standard that will get us noticed. I am a ‘lucky’ woman: my first job was on an archaeology dig. It thought me not to mess about and to keep digging :). My second job was as a tourist guide – it thought me that repetition is boring and if you bore yourself you certainly bore the tourists; so I got learning. Now I’m a university professor and your point about opportunities has never been more true: I try to give this skill to my students as well (and I teach philosophy :)).

    And you know what? I’m not worried about the future either. If this ‘academe’ gig folds (and the way things are going with universities it is very likely this will happen) I’ll always make a living. If I’m not a professor, I’ll be a great shelf-stacker in the local super-market! Or a great writer; or…well that’s it really.

    • John Schneider 25 / 08 / 2014 Reply

      That’s a great outlook and one many could benefit from today. Whatever happens, you’ll be fine. If we rid ourselves of the fatalist mentality, many of our problems and fears would subside. Thanks for reading and sharing!

  • Michelle 14 / 09 / 2014 Reply

    This is a great post. I have worked many jobs that people felt "were beneath me." But in the end, it paid the bills, and I was making a difference in that field.

    • John Schneider 18 / 09 / 2014 Reply

      That’s all that matters and there’s something you can learn from every job. Absorb what you can and move on when the time/opportunity is right.

  • Julie Rains 19 / 10 / 2015 Reply

    My worst job was really an online contract position. I was managed by a person who thought that SHOUTING instructions via email was the best way to communicate with contractors. I did pick up a couple of things that were useful in my work. But mainly I learned that it was okay to push back, hold bosses accountable for their actions (or at least remind them of their guidelines), and exit quickly if/when I wasn’t being properly compensated. It also made me appreciately nearly every person I’ve worked for since.

  • Amanda 19 / 10 / 2015 Reply

    When I started thinking about my “worst” job, a lot of retail gigs came to mind. I remember clocking out of my very first retail job to go to lunch. I walked over to the fast food place across the street and spent more than I’d made the previous hour – on one meal! That was an eye opener.

    I don’t think of it as my “worst” job, but my HARDEST job was as a nurse aide on a dementia ward at a critical care and assisted living facility. For one summer, I lifted and turned, fed and bathed, listened and cried. I cried every night of that job. It only lasted for one summer. I took it as a summer job while I was in college. But, I’ve never forgotten it – or my mad respect for the people who do it and do it well.

  • Lisa 07 / 11 / 2016 Reply

    One of my hardest jobs was working as an Employment Consultant at a non-profit, matching formerly homeless people with jobs, who often had issues with addiction and mental illness.

    • David Auten 12 / 12 / 2016 Reply

      Lisa, sorry for the delay in replying. That does sound like a tough job, although I can imagine that it could provide some great rewards when you see someone with these issues make great strides in improving. A hard job can often be a good lesson in what we really want in life.

Leave a Reply