by Teri Fritsma

When’s the last time you met someone who really inspired you?

For me, it was last week.  My dad was visiting from out of town and we decided to fix up my daughter’s backyard playhouse.  We went to a big box home improvement store (I’ll let you guess which one) to buy some lumber.  I must tell you, I’m not inspired in any way by home improvement projects.  I get overwhelmed by the options, and I don’t know the difference between plywood and particle board.

But there I was, shopping for lumber (and pretty beat, mind you, after a long day at work).  A minute after entering the store, we were greeted by a lumber specialist named Jake.  

 And here’s the inspiring part:  Jake loved his job.


He walked us through the ins and outs of lumber.  What was our project about?  Which grade and thickness of plywood would be best for our purposes?  Did we need treated or untreated 2-by-4s?  He listened closely to our answers and worked with us as though he were building this playhouse — as if it were his daughter who was going to be running around in it.  Then he cut our lumber professionally and quickly (he was particularly proud of his saws).


After he cut our lumber, did Jake let us loose to get lost in the store?  No.  He asked what else we needed.  He helped us find the deck screws and the chalk tape.  He looked over the choices with us and helped us figure out the right length of screw and the right type of tape. 


At that point, he was called to help another customer.  But before he let us go, he shook our hands, said it was nice meeting us, and wished us luck on our project.  He treated us not like customers — not like people it was his duty to serve — but like a couple of new friends.  Like someone you meet that you take a liking to.  It was a nice feeling.


Why am I telling you all this?  Because people who are passionate about what they do are inspiring — and it really doesn’t matter what they do.  No job is perfect; every job has some fatal flaw.  But we all have a choice: we can dwell on the flaws, or we can focus on that handful of things we really love about our jobs.  (Hint: if you can’t think of anything you love about your job, it may be time to find a new one.)  If you’re a typical, full-time worker, you’ll probably work about 88,000 hours over the course of your life.  Wouldn’t you rather make the most of those 88,000 hours and love what you do?


Plus, if you’re not careful, you just might inspire someone.