Skills and Wills

bartending CrossFit self-employment

Most of us are raised to believe that the latter is the way to make money and establish ourselves in the world. We are told, go to school, study hard, get good grades so you can get a good job at a good company. Avoid the risky path. In truth, I always gagged at this notion of how to work. I knew that if my time was not my own, it would hardly be worth living, and my limited experience working for someone else has only confirmed my suspicions. No doubt about it though, working for the man is the way to go if you want to make more money easily.

On a moral level, however, I was never really able to accept that. Ultimately, we can be far more successful working for ourselves. We control our time, and with a bit of insight and training, can end up making more money in the long run. But look at the way our educational system is structured. We go to high school and then college to learn skills to make us employable. We don't go to school to learn how to create value for ourselves, only for some big investment firm or the government, or a technology company.

I always wondered about this. In college, it seemed very apparent that the skills I was learning couldn't be applied to my personal growth or establishing an independent lifestyle. Besides the fact that I wasn't taught anything about money, nowhere in college were the concepts of leadership or self-presentation taught as a specific set of skills. As I did more and more reading of these topics on my own, I realized that these things could be taught in college, and these topics would be much more in line with getting better jobs, the stated purpose of higher education.

Certainly, most colleges require discipline, initiative-taking, and creativity in order to do well, but they are not the focus of the program. Just think how successful students could be if they were actually taught these things in a focused and structured manner! Instead of teaching skills, we should be teaching character, initiative, go-getterness! We should be showing our kids how to be persistent and determined, the secrets of attracting success as explained in The Secret, Think and Grow Rich, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and similar titles of proven worth by men and women who are shining examples of 'uneducated' success stories.

After working a few hours at a traditional job, I decided I didn't want to do it. So I didn't. I created my current jobs. Of course, I did it with a lot of support from friends and my gym, but I set myself up to become a CrossFit trainer by offering to help out and training myself in the necessary skills. My time is pretty much my own, and how well I do is determined by how many clients I can get for myself. My bartending job is structured similarly, and I am largely paid in tips, directly from the customer, without a middleman. I can't really just 'show up;' I have to really work at making my time valuable in both cases. But I love my work, because I mostly work for myself. I went out, got my jobs, largely invented them (I did not invent personal training I know, but I invented my brand of personal training, and I never filled out an application for either job).

Well, alright the line is blurry, but I'm still definitely on the 'self-employed' side of it, and I can tell you, it's glorious over here!


Image source: Adam Foster on Flickr