I worked for less than six months at the factory. It was a short spell that brought me down to earth with a loud thud. The reality check crushed the grand plans I had for my job and me. God knew I needed that short tour of duty. It was the shortest time I had ever held a job. On that brief outing, I got to know more about wealth, success and fulfillment than I had ever known before.
At this famous factory, I met a man who had been on the same job at the plant for 17 years! I was a proud shiny brand new member of staff working my way up to be a top manager. This human being, the messenger, did not strike me as much of a threat - least of all as a threat to my career. At most, I thought he was just a stepping-stone on the way up to my success.
By and by, I came to find out that this minor being lived in his own house 50 miles away. He also owned three 40-seater buses and, of course, a piece of land on which he and his wife kept some dairy cows. I was shocked beyond words. In my wisdom, this man had a job that led nowhere. He could not possibly hope to amount to much in life. I felt so badly hurt by his success that I suspected he had somehow cheated to get all the wealth he had. I made up my mind to find out the truth.
In the meantime, I owned a new cute reconditioned car that I paid for with a loan from the company. This particular car had a huge appetite for petrol. I also lived in a rented house in an upper class area of town. Moreover, I owned a hi-tech TV that I got with the help of a bank overdraft. I kept my food in a hired fridge and was about to get some more credit to complete furnishing my house.
Just to help you understand why I was so badly hurt; this fellow’s gross pay was equal to what I paid in tax. Yet, he had achieved during his career what I hoped to achieve at the end of mine. I had to meet this fellow to restore my sanity. I also, as a matter of course, needed to confirm that he was not a threat to my career. I got hold of him one day and asked him rather cheekily;
…What are you doing here? Judging from what I hear, you do not need this job. What are you doing here? His answer was simply classic. It is written here for all workers around the world to see and learn.
“Young man all those things out there house, buses, farms and all were born out of this job. And, as we speak right now, I have not milked all the opportunities this job provides me. If they (management) ask me to go, I will go happily. But before they ask me to do so, I am going to milk as much from this job as I can…”
The words cut through my heart like a hot razor blade - deep, ruthless and convicting. No - this fellow was not a threat to my career. I - was a threat to my own career! I may not have worked for 17 years, but I had already been employed for more than half of that time.
At the rate at which I was piling up debt, I would never own anything at all. All the while, I thought my career was moving nicely up the job ranks. Yet this guy was happy with the success he achieved without leaving the messenger class.
Instead of milking the opportunity, I was busy drinking the milk. I was prospering in a manner that threatened my own future. My success was suffering at the expense of my career.
Do you know what is so unfair about all this? It is the fact that the “small guys” are always better at milking than the “big guys”. In fact, I doubt whether any of the senior officers know how to milk. If a cow stood in front of one of them, they may not know what it is. How do we become so blind to opportunity? If I would have it, this fellow was indeed a stepping-stone to my success.
Excerpt from the book How To Prosper In Employment by Allan Bukusi