Donna Leskosek knows the secret to success: feeding your soul is more important than big bucks and prestige when it comes to a career.
Not long ago I spoke with a man about the career choices our kids make. His daughter had picked a career path that brought her great joy. She had considerable skill in her job, although it didn’t hold much potential for riches or esteem. At least “she’s happy doing it,” he said. “How many of us can say that? Certainly not me. ” This surprised me because he is someone who has worked hard to attain the position he has and is well compensated for it. When I told him I can say I am happy doing what I do, he seemed surprised. So why am I happy, making far less money than him and having far less stature than him?
I am a person who can truly say that she loves her job. Success in my world does not have anything to do with making a profit. Success means that the quality of someone’s life is improved in some way by having me or the people who work for our agency in it. Sometimes the measure of the improvement must be on a small scale. I think we achieve it everyday.
Long ago I limited my contact with people who I felt were toxic in my life. I became happier when I recognized that I would not be able to please them — and I began pleasing myself. I try to be in direct contact with youth. I look for their strengths and encourage them. This always makes me feel hopeful. I feel sad for people who everyday go to work at something they hate, or in place filled with people they do not like.
I have worked at jobs I dreaded. The most memorable of these was a stint as a bank teller. I was undoubtedly the worst teller ever hired. I hated everything about the job except the customers, and a few of them were horrible, too. It was hard for me to place value on the counting of, the caring for, and the tallying up of money. It was even harder because the bank I worked at treated its employees with so much disregard. The message was always clear —you are expendable.
I was so happy to quit, and as my grandma would say, they were damn happy to see the back end of me. I left that job to work at a community daycare that was an hour-and-a-half bus ride with three transfers away and paid far less than the bank. I finished the days tired and poor but thankful for sticky kisses, original artwork, and with a feeling of being appreciated. At the bank, hardly anyone had ever appreciated how I filled out their deposit slip.
I feel lucky that I have been able to match the job that earns my daily bread with the work that feeds my soul. I hope that my children are able to as well. I also hope that there are bank tellers who love what they do — it simply was not for me. My advice to those seeking a career is that if you are choosing one just for the money, you will need to figure out how much will be enough to compensate for regret.
“do what you love what you do” art card from Etsy.com