Be The One Thing That Goes Right For Someone Today

There is no downside to doing good work with passion and enthusiasm.

Cafe Latte from The Big Bean Coffee Shop

In my early 20’s, I did not make a lot of money and I did not need a lot of money. I had no credit card debt, no student loans, no mortgage, and no family to support. I made enough money as a barista at a coffee shop in downtown Annapolis to rent a room, to buy food, to go to the movies every once in a while, and to pay tuition at the martial art school I was a member of. There was not much else I wanted or needed. The job was not glamorous, but it was honest. I took pride in my work and I did my job well.

It was not just that job, however. Before that, I was a landscaper, a record store clerk, a dishwasher, and I had several other jobs in my adolescence. In all of these jobs, I took the work seriously and I did it as if reputation and my self respect depended on it. It is not that I was a perfect employee. Far from it. I was young, arrogant, and full of unwanted opinions, but I was dependable and I got the job done. It was and is still important to me that I have a sense of purpose in my work in order to do it passionately and enthusiastically. Without purpose, I drift into apathy and distraction.

The secret, though, is to create purpose for yourself in whatever you do. As a landscaper, for example, I made it my purpose to make the work I did look beautiful, even if it was simply mulching a garden bed. At the record store, I set out to provide customers with an enjoyable shopping experience, while also helping them find the music they sought after. When I was a dishwasher, I set out to organize the work station for maximum efficiency so that the whole process went more smoothly for everyone. With coffee, it was easy because I enjoyed the product of my labor. I enjoyed being a barista and making drinks for people. As a barista, I got to know all of my customers, their individual drinks and routines, and I provided a high quality product so that I knew that at least one thing went right for them on that day.

-Robert Van Valkenburgh teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Kogen Dojo in Severna Park, Maryland

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