The young person standing in front of me was obviously a bit nervous. He had shaken my hand with his clammy one, introduced himself to me using his full name, and let me know he was looking for a job.
"Do you have any prior work experience?" I asked with a smile that I hoped was welcoming. "Um, well, no. This would be my first job. I've um, helped my dad on the ranch but, um, I've never had a real job." He was making a valiant effort at good eye contact.
"What did you do on the ranch?" I asked, inciting an open answer from the young fellow.
His face lit up as he began to tell me:
"Well in the Spring we'd start by calving. It's really important to get to the calves right when they are born if it's still cold out. (note: we're talking Montana here so calving in sub zero temps is common) It's expensive to lose them. Some days are really busy with lot's of cows having calves at the same time. Some of the calves have to be bottle fed so there's that to do. A couple of times I had to miss school to help out but I always made it up."
"That sounds like a lot of work. What else did you do?"
"We have some wheat too that we were going to plant but then the weather turned and we had to wait a week. My dad is going to teach me how to run some of the equipment next summer. Oh, and then the calves later on have to be sorted and shipped out and then it starts all over again."
He mentioned that his dad paid him sometimes but mostly just bought him things if he needed clothing and such and that helping on the ranch was just what you did when you were raised on one.
I continued through the remaining list of questions asked of all applicants.
For a young man who claimed to have never had a 'real' job he had an impressive list of attributes:
He had essentially told me he had flexibility when he said he worked nights and weekends and holidays and whatever hours necessary to accommodate a birthing cow.
He obviously had discipline as there is often not a lot of motivation to crawl out of bed at 3 AM to help a cow give birth when it's -30.
He knew the importance of assets and expenses.
He'd told me he knew how to prioritize and was open to learning, willing to do what it takes to get the job done.
He had an awareness of planning and forecasting.
He showed loyalty to his family and their ranch in working for no specific pay.
In short, he could teach a few adults quite a bit about some things, myself included.
The conversation made me think about how many great qualities we all end up downplaying because they weren't used in the context that we feel they need to be to 'matter'. . .to be 'real'.
Whether it's running a household, raising a child as working parent, being a stay at home parent, running a corporation, working as a line cook, or doing something like babysitting or helping on the family farm nearly everything involves skills that are transferrable and sellable in the 'real' world.
Never sell yourself short, and encourage those around you both young AND older to fully embrace their full range of skills. When you start to list them it can be impressive.
I challenge you to find 3 great attributes you posses that you've acquired through unconventional ways. How can you apply them and amplify them daily?
. . .and yes, he got the job. . .