On January 9th I was invited to speak at Wauconda High School, which is in a northwest suburb of Chicago, IL. The speech was a jam packed 30 minutes about group leadership, in relation to a new program they did at the school where they divided the school in half to compete for points, and also a bit of research in the world of positive psychology.
Of particular note was that after the speech a student, Isaac, came up to me and asked me a very “adult” question regarding jobs and income. His reference point was that the “good jobs” must be the higher paying ones since your family makes you happy and you want to be able to pay the bills to take care of your family. Right? His questions basically was, “How can you be a janitor and be happy when you are struggling to pay the bills and are having a hard time to support the family?”
I told him that it does not matter what job you have, money problems can exist whether you make 50k or 500k per year.
I told him to be happy in whatever your job is first, then when it comes to money, it is merely a math problem. “It is not about what you make, but what you net,” I told him.
There are two problems one can have with money: One is not having enough, and the other is having too much. This seemed to resonant with Isaac, and he responded, “so live within your means,” and I replied, “Absolutely!”
This was a great teaching moment. His question was in response to a study I had shared during my speech about how we perceive our jobs is more important than the type of job or the salary/description/details of it. It is easy to blame the industry in which we work, or the specific job itself, but the truth is that any job can be horrible and any job can be fantastic… a physician can look at their work as a chore and a janitor can look at their work as a calling.
I hope the students at Wauconda, like Isaac, can at least take that tidbit away from my talk, as the jobs we do in life SHOULD be ones we enjoy doing, for the sake of the activity itself, and not just because of money, power, prestige, etc.
I’m looking forward to the next school, thanks again Wauconda for having me!