Step 1: A Single Mom
My three brothers and I grew up in a poor family, raised by a single mom. My mom was always working really hard to make sure we always had food and a roof over our heads. She would always find ways to give us gifts on our birthdays and at Christmas. But apart from that, we couldn’t get any luxury.
Because of that, I had every reason to want to chase money. To want to end this “miserable” life.
The thing is, I never actually cared for money. Strange isn’t it?
Step 2: Strawberries
It’s made stranger by the fact that I started working on the farm (strawberry picking) when I was 8 years old. I was getting paid by productivity. The more baskets I filled, the more money I made.
By the age of 12, I was one of the best, if not the best. Jealous kids thought I was cheating, grown-ups looked up to me. And that’s what I cared for. Being treated like a grown-up and learning from them. I was hanging out with people 3–4 times my age. Even today, I have much deeper conversations with people who are older than me.
But back then I was a kid. I had not realized the truth of it. I thought I was doing it for the money. Heck, I remember that summer when I was 11 years old. I had bought a 27 inch TV (back then, that was impressive), a Playstation, a surround sound system and tons of games. When other kids told me their parents bought them a Playstation, I was so much more proud to say to I had bought my own.
The truth is, that money and what I bought back then is long gone. Long gone.
What is not gone are the lessons and skills I learned so early in life: Working hard (as if I couldn’t bring food on the table), perseverance, waking up early, listening to “mentors” and more.
“Become a millionaire not for the million dollars, but for what it will make of you to achieve it.” — Jim Rohn
Back when I was the king of the field, I didn’t make the most money because I chased it, but because I aimed for excellence. I worked harder than the rest, I woke up earlier than the rest, I listened to advice and I showed up consistently. Rain or shine, literally.
Money was more of a metric. Like a scale when you work towards gain or losing weight. It was a good way to gauge if my learning was progressing or not.
Step 3: Rain
I met my wife in the strawberry fields when she was 15 years old. We had plans to go out to the movies and to the restaurant with friends for her 16th birthday.
I remember that day so well not because it was magical or anything, but because it was a *shitty day (pardon the term). It was down-pouring rain, but our boss would not allow us to stop. There was at least 10 cm of rain on the ground and we were all down on our knees picking the strawberries up. Definitely no enjoyable experience. For a normal person.
While most gave in and left, I was still there picking strawberries. Remember, rain or shine. I had to brave this rainstorm. If my mom could raise four brats by herself with nothing, there’s no way that rainstorm would win against me! My memory may serve me wrong here, but I think I had a record day that day.
And this is how I approach life. It took me years to realize it, but now I get it. Real hard work and perseverance matter. That is how you reach your craziest goals.
I’m leaving you with great quotes that resonate with the lessons I learned from these early experiences:
“There’s no substitute for hard work” — Thomas A. Edison
“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance” — Samuel Johnson
“…I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” — Louisa May Alcott
“No one succeeds without effort… Those who succeed owe their success to perseverance.” — Ramana Maharshi
Thanks for reading! :)
First published here: https://theascent.pub/a-single-mom-strawberries-and-rain-a-true-story-about-real-hard-work-and-perseverance-12f3ecb99145