How to succeed – starting
A few weeks ago I was driving around my neighbourhood on a Sunday afternoon looking for a place to get a car wash. I came across one man at some traffic lights who was busy washing a car. It was near my home, but somehow I had never considered taking my car to him. That day I observed just how busy and focused he was about cleaning that car. He seemed to be really enjoying the work. It seemed strange. So I stopped by and told him I’d come back later to get my car washed.
How to succeed – a remarkable story
When I got back that afternoon he told me how that if I had not told him I was coming, he would have left the place already. On further enquiry he told me that Sunday afternoon is the only day he had to check on how his shop was doing. I was intrigued. He had a shop? I got a few more details about it and found out he actually employed someone to run the shop whilst he was at his car wash. It sounded like a reasonably good business.
All the while he was talking and systematically cleaning the car. You could tell he had done this so many times before. He had a clear system to what he was doing. I usually don’t talk much so I was pretty happy to let him go ahead and tell me his life story. It was fascinating. He lived by himself from the age of fourteen. Not because he was an orphan or anything like that. He had asked his parents to allow him to go out and live life on his own terms. He started working and doing business from that age and managed to see himself through school – at least up to grade nine. Unfortunately, he did not reach or finish grade twelve because of a few “hardships” he was experiencing.
How to succeed – staying positive
Nevertheless, he kept a positive outlook to life and never depended on anyone to provide for him. Now, with a family of two children and a wife, he is able to make ends meet by running his shop and washing cars. I enquired how much he charged for each vehicle he washed and how many vehicles he washed on an average day. The figures were impressive. Suffice to say he earns more money washing cars by the side of the road than most do in either government or the private sector. The best part? It’s all income-tax free!
He said to me that he could never bring himself to work for another man.
“Why should I work for someone else when I have my freedom and I can make it on my own? Most people who are employed make very little money and on top of that they pay taxes off of whatever little they make”
he added. I was absolutely impressed. I mean here was someone who actually chose to do what he was doing and was not only proud of it, but he was enjoying it in some way.
How to succeed – don’t take the easy way
We tend to think that if someone is doing business like that on the roadside it is because they have no choice. But he clearly had choices. He could have easily chosen to go the ‘easy’ way and get a job as a gardener or something like that and earn much less than he does. But he realised the value of working for himself and benefited in other aspects such as using legal means to pay as little tax as possible or tax avoidance. This is different from tax evasion, which is using illegal means to avoid paying taxes and is a criminal offense.
My whole perception of him changed. I respected and admired him in a huge way. Dare I say I was inspired by him? By society’s standards he was not well educated, but it was obvious that he was highly intelligent and very educated about life. Street wise, if I must say.
How to succeed – it takes more than just education
As Robert Kiyosaki said “Once we leave school, most of us know that it is not as much a matter of college degrees or good grades that count. In the real world outside of academics, sometimes more than just grades is required. I have heard it called ‘guts,’ ‘chutzpah,’ ‘audacity,’ ‘bravado,’ ‘cunning,’ ‘daring,’ ‘tenacity’ and ‘brilliance.’ This factor, whatever it is labeled, ultimately decided one’s future much more than school grades.”
If only more people thought like he did. If only there were more people that believed enough in themselves and their abilities to know that they could make it on their own without an employment contract being their only security. If only more of us were willing to take a chance.
Clearly he was not living the life he ultimately hoped to have, but he was doing what he could with what he had. I could only guess that he had plans to move on from where he was to a better place. That’s the only way a man can be doing what he was doing with such enthusiasm, patience and focus. The hope of a better tomorrow for himself and his family must keep him going.
How to succeed – do what needs to be done
I thought to myself how many people are working jobs that barely meet their needs and how many are not even working because they can’t find a job. Could there be something to be learnt from this man? Could there be something these people could be doing to get along? It could be uncomfortable, seemingly below their standards or just not seem fitting, but it could be a step in the right direction. How many of our university graduates who are fighting for jobs that are few and pay little can actually make good money doing a business like this man is doing?
How to succeed – make the most of your opportunities
Yes, a street corner washing cars is not a place you would expect to find a graduate, but would you still feel the same way about that if you found out he could actually make more money there than with a tie on in some posh office? I doubt it. Come to think of it, I wonder how many people who take their cars to be washed by him actually realise he makes more money washing their cars than they do in secure employment.
Being employed is good. So long as it serves its purpose of allowing you to earn money and learn and grow at the same time. Times are changed and it is no longer enough to be employed all of one’s life and hope for a pension to take care of you at the end of your career.
How to succeed – conclusion
Learn what you can from your work. Then, at some point, you need to apply that knowledge to create something of your own. Build something that will earn you a far better life than an award for most dedicated or longest serving employee. Become the employer instead.
You are all you can be. Go on and be it.