Each of Us Is Essential

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I have great admiration for business people because it is an arena where I always feel inept. During my early college days I was one of those students who had absolutely no idea how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I found it impossible to choose a major, and so I settled on a declaring that I was studying unspecified arts and sciences. Not even that worked for me because it actually precluded majors in the sciences, engineering and business. As a result I registered for courses from different areas in hopes of finding a good fit. By the time I graduated I had completed around twenty-four more hours of work than I needed. 

One semester I decided to take a couple of generic business courses just to see how they felt. I remember feeling like a fish flopping around on a pier after accidentally leaping out of the water. Nothing about that experience felt right, not even the people who were gung ho about following careers in the world of finance and accounting and marketing. The best aspect of that time was that I finally felt certain that I had no interest in business whatsoever.

I greatly admire people who keep the engines of commerce roaring throughout the world. I am in awe of those who have an idea for being their own bosses by creating a business. I understand the level of creativity and hard work that it takes to be successful in doing such things. I’m not one who begrudges those who make it, because I am totally aware that I simply do not have it in my nature to invest the time and energy and resources into such an undertaking. 

We need our business people. They are as important and as creative as our teachers, medical workers, engineers, scientists. They may sometimes appear to be less altruistic than ministers and counselors, but a really talented business person has the capability of changing many lives for the betterment of society when they build fair and just work environments and reliable products that we need. Those who know how to do such things are as gifted and talented as a virtuoso musician.

I’m really good at a number of things but I can’t sell a hot meal to someone who is starving. I was once chided at a garage sale for discouraging the buyers. A customer actually told me that my best bet for making a deal would be to say absolutely nothing because the more I spoke, the less appealing an item became. Some people have a knack for the art of the deal, but not me. So I generally leave such things to others. 

When I do business it is always on a small scale. In some ways it might be said that my tutoring and homeschool teaching is a kind of business, but I keep it running for pleasure rather than profit. I use my teaching skills and knowledge of mathematics to work with students of many different ages and abilities. If I really wanted to make money I suppose that I could turn those abilities into a prolific business, but instead I generally sell myself short because making a bundle of cash is not where I find joy. In some ways I am the bargain basement maven of tutoring and teaching because I don’t want to lose the students that I love in a hassle over fees. 

I know that I would not enjoy the process of actually running a bonafide business. I do well to keep track of my small earnings, my expenses, and the taxes I must pay. Anything more complex than that would drive me insane. I have no desire whatsoever to become involved in all of the hassle that I know is required for running a successful business. My mind and my desires just don’t do well under such circumstances. 

I once worked for the KIPP Charter Schools. I remember a time when a group of school administrators like myself took a personality test along with one of the founders of the schools. Ironically all of us who were working on the front lines inside the schools ranked highest in altruism while the founder’s top trait was business acumen. It made sense. He needed people like me who revel in doing good works while he grew the business so that we all might have a place to showcase our talents. 

If have a friend whose father is a minister. He said that his very devout and religious dad once told him that everything is a business, including a church. I initially found that thought to be disturbing, but then I realized that if an organization is unable to raise the funds to keep the lights glowing we all lose a place where we might have gone. That idea is reinforced by a family member who has a medical practice. She insists that her business manager is perhaps the most critical member of her staff. Everything that she does falls apart without the skills of the person who keeps the finances in order. 

As a society we all too often create stereotypes of the various professions. We equate success with titles and financial gain. We view altruistic persons as being more compassionate than those who analyze financial data. In truth each person in the chain is critical. When even a tiny part breaks down we all suffer. We have seen that happening all too often in the months of pandemic. I appreciate the businesses both small and large that provide me with goods and services that make my life better. Those who run them have special skills just as I have mine. Each of us is essential and luckily we have a variety of talents to offer to keep our world working the way it should.